ENDA Introduced -- With 92 Fewer Co-Sponsors Than at the End of the 111th Congress

Posted by Chris Geidner
April 6, 2011 9:05 PM |

frank-vf-092910.jpgAt the end of the 111th Congress, 203 members of the 435-member body had joined Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) in co-sponsoring the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

The jobs protection bill, though only 14 members away from having a majority of the House as co-sponsors, never made it out of the House Education and Labor Committee chaired by ENDA co-sponsor Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.).

Today, the bill, which would prohibit most employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation of gender identity, was reintroduced by Frank with only a few more than half that number -- 111 co-sponsors.

In the days before a news conference announcing that the bill would be reintroduced in the 112th Congress, Frank told Metro Weekly of the reintroduction, "It's an organizing tool. Obviously, with the Republicans in power, you're not going to get the bill even considered."

At the March 30 news conference, it was announced that ENDA would be introduced, but not on that day.

Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) -- not a supporter of ENDA -- is now the chair of the committee in the Republican-led House to which ENDA will be assigned, which is now called the Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Today, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) made clear that the committee leadership isn't the only change this Congress. At an evening Immigration Equality event, she told Metro Weekly of ENDA, "It was introduced today, with 111 co-sponsors."

Frank communications director Harry Gural confirmed the bill's introduction and co-sponsorship number with Metro Weekly but said further information would be available on Thursday, April 7.

Gural added that the 111 co-sponsors was "[a] great number considering the heavy loss of Dem seats last election."

Republicans gained more than 70 seats in the House following the November 2010 elections, a result President Barack Obama referred to as a "shellacking."

The Human Rights Campaign's vice president of communications, Fred Sainz, told Metro Weekly this evening, "It's a start. The goal will be to work back up to a number that exceeds last session's number with a greater number of Republicans. We know that this is a building session, and frankly, I wouldn't measure success by the number of co-sponsors alone but by the amount of education and outreach we do to members."

Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said of the numbers, "This is about the same numbers as in the 111th Congress, and we know we have far fewer supporters in this Congress than the last time." In the 111th Congress, the bill had 117 co-sponsors at introduction.

"We know we lost more than 40 of our co-sponsors to the election, so this isn't especially distrubing that not everyone is signed on as co-sponsors yet," Keisling said. "It's not like today was some sort of a deadline. There will be more in the next couple of days. If you look through the list, you're going to find some obvious people who want to be and will be co-sponsors and just haven't gotten around to it yet."

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