McCain leaning yes on ENDA

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) expressed cautious support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) currently nearing passage in the Senate.

He also lambasted the recent government shutdown and called for reforms at the National Security Agency, during a wide-ranging television interview.

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McCain said he was leaning towards a vote in favor of ENDA, which would ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The law has the backing of every Senate Democrat but Republicans are much more wary. McCain himself emphasized that he still has outstanding concerns regarding the law’s possible effect on religious organizations. He likened ENDA to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and its sometimes-controversial after-effects.

“When we passed the Civil Rights Act, which was the right thing to do, there were a lot of unintended consequence that we had to fix over time, such as quotas, busing, and other aspects of the law,” McCain said on Fusion TV’s “America with Jorge Ramos" in an interview scheduled to air Thursday night. “I’m going to have to see, be sure, that religious-oriented organizations are not forced.”

Asked how he would explain his concerns to his wife and daughter, both backers of gay rights, McCain quipped that he would “welcome spirited debate in my family.”

McCain’s openness to ENDA was not his only point of difference from GOP hardliners. He gave a blistering criticism of the early October government shutdown over ObamaCare, calling it a “miserable failure” that the GOP should remove from its tactical playbook.

“I said it wouldn’t succeed from the start and it didn’t,” McCain. “It was a miserable failure and we must never do it again.”

McCain avoided piling blame on Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) or other Republicans who advocated the shutdown strategy, but said those responsible for the shutdown “will be held accountable by the American people” regardless of party.

McCain also spoke with Ramos about the NSA controversy, which has re-emerged following revelations of U.S. surveillance on political leaders in allied countries.

McCain, a frequent defender of strong surveillance practices, said this time the NSA’s efforts had gone too far.

“Friends often eavesdrop on friends, but when we are listening in on the private conversations of the private cell phones of the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, obviously that is going to alienate our friends,” McCain said.

He blamed the overreach on a lack of Congressional oversight, and repeated his recent call for a select Congressional committee to review surveillance.