A closer look at next week…

The Senate has a week to itself, without the House, and will use it to focus on a gay rights bill that is 20 years in the making.

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) proposed the first version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in 1994. Next week, the Senate will start work on the latest version of the bill from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

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The bill gives the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission the authority to enforce new rules that prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It also seeks to protect people in the process of "gender transition."

The Senate might end up spending much of the week on this bill if it survives the first procedural vote set for Monday. But it will also consider more nominations, and could take up legislation dealing with the minimum wage, drug compounding and the National Defense Authorization Act.

Because the House is out all week, there won't be any meetings of House-Senate negotiators on the budget or the farm bill.

Below is a more detailed look at the week ahead:

Monday

The Senate starts at 2 p.m., and will resume debate on a motion to proceed to ENDA, S. 815.

At 5 p.m., the Senate will start debate on two nominations and hold votes at 5:30 p.m. One is Greg Woods to be a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York.

The other is Debra Brown to be a U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Mississippi.

After those votes, the Senate will vote to end debate on the motion to proceed to ENDA. If 60 votes are there to end debate, the Senate might immediately pass the motion to proceed to the bill by unanimous consent.

Last week, one LGBT group said they think the votes are there to allow the Senate to start work on the bill.

Tuesday-Thursday

The Senate is in for the rest of the week, and will likely stay focused on ENDA, assuming a successful procedural vote on Monday.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he wants to move ahead with other bills between now and Thanksgiving, and it's possible some of them could debated during the week. They are:

S. 460, the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would boost the minimum wage to $10.10 after two years, and then link it to inflation.

— S. 1197, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal year 2014 (link is creating problems, but it's available on www.thomas.gov).

H.R. 3204, the Drug Quality and Security Act, which would make it easier to track counterfeit drugs though out the country. The House passed this bill in late September, by a voice vote.