The Senate voted 61-30 on Monday to begin debate on legislation that would create workplace protections for gay and transgender people in all 50 states.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) received the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster, and will now have to move through a series of procedural hurdles before final Senate passage, which is expected later this week.

Seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting to advance the bill: Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration GOP senators turning Trump immigration framework into legislation Longtime Clinton confidant blames Comey for 2016 loss MORE (Maine), Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteAudit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years No, the US did not spend million on a gas station in Afghanistan MORE (N.H.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP leader: Congress may settle for pared-down immigration deal Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA Key senator floats new compromise for immigration talks MORE (Ohio), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerHeller campaign slams GOP rival over six-figure nonprofit salary Juan Williams: Help Trump climb down from the wall GOP Senate candidate fundraising lags behind Dems in key races MORE (Nev.), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE (Ill.) and Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOvernight Tech: Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up hack | Apple considers battery rebates | Regulators talk bitcoin | SpaceX launches world's most powerful rocket Overnight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach Hatch introduces bipartisan bill to clarify cross-border data policies MORE (Utah).

Another GOP supporter of ENDA, Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiLawmakers scold Trump official over Pacific island trust fund Republican agenda clouded by division Greens sue over Interior plans to build road through Alaska refuge MORE (Alaska), was not present for the vote.

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"The right to work is fundamental," Collins said on the Senate floor. "How can we in good conscious deny that right to any LGBT individual? … It’s simply the right thing to do to pass this bill."

The bill, S. 815, would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Democrats and gay rights groups say ENDA is needed because not every state has approved such protections.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would enforce the new workplace rules.

The White House said President Obama “welcomes the Senate’s bipartisan first step” toward passage of the bill.

“[Obama] thanks the lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who have stood up for America’s core values of fairness and equality,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney in a statement.

Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinGreen group backs Sens. Baldwin, Nelson for reelection Dems press Trump for 'Buy American' proposals in infrastructure plan Protesters wearing blue fill hearing to protest Grassley ignoring 'blue slip rule' MORE (D-Wis.), the first openly gay U.S. senator, said the vote was about “freedom, fairness and opportunity” and said Republicans who support the bill would be remembered for their “courage.”

ENDA, which was first proposed in 1994, passed the House in 2007 but has never passed the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTo end sugar subsidies, conservatives can't launch a frontal attack House presses Senate GOP on filibuster reform A pro-science approach to Yucca Mountain appropriations MORE (D-Nev.) said a federal law is needed “to ensure all Americans, no matter where they are, will not be afraid to go to work.”

But even if the bill passes the Senate, as expected, it appears to be going nowhere in the Republican House.

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying World Freedom Caucus wants budget reforms attached to debt limit increase Trey Gowdy announces retirement from Congress MORE (R-Ohio) on Monday said he is opposed to ENDA because it could open businesses up to lawsuits.

“The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” said BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying World Freedom Caucus wants budget reforms attached to debt limit increase Trey Gowdy announces retirement from Congress MORE spokesman Michael Steel.

Boehner's office also said the Speaker believes current law already prohibits employers from firing their workers because of their sexual orientation.

Conservative groups, such as Heritage Action, have urged members of Congress to block ENDA, warning it would undercut First Amendment freedoms.

“The legislation would severely undermine civil liberties, increase government interference in the labor market, and trample on religious liberty,” Heritage Action said in a statement.

Democrats have included language in the bill that would exempt military and religious organizations from complying with the nondiscrimination measure.

GOP senators on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee said they are worried about how the bill would be applied to schools. They produced a report that warned ENDA’s language is "too vague for employers to understand."

"S. 815 would force employers to ignore and silence the concerns of fellow employees, customers, and other users of their facilities," the GOP senators wrote. "The repercussions of disregarding such concerns could be devastating to an employer."

Obama has backed the legislation, saying it is “offensive” and “wrong” that some states allow individuals to be fired based on their sexual orientation.

HELP Committee Chairman Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinOrrin Hatch, ‘a tough old bird,’ got a lot done in the Senate Democrats are all talk when it comes to DC statehood The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Iowa) noted that 17 states already have laws against employment discrimination for the LGBT community and said those rules should apply nationwide.

“A vast majority believe everyone has the right to earn a living wage without discrimination,” Harkin said. “This is another step in the direction of opening America up and making our society more inclusive rather than exclusive.”

Harkin said he hoped senators would file only amendments that are germane to the bill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy' McConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 MORE (R-Ky.) and Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulPentagon: War in Afghanistan will cost billion in 2018 Overnight Finance: Senators near two-year budget deal | Trump would 'love to see a shutdown' over immigration | Dow closes nearly 600 points higher after volatile day | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 | Pawlenty leaving Wall Street group Rand Paul calls for punishment if Congress can't reach a long-term budget deal MORE (R-Ky.) have introduced a national right-to-work amendment to ENDA.

Their amendment, which likely will be blocked by Senate Democrats, aims to prohibit labor unions from forcing some employees to pay union dues. Nearly half of the states have right-to-work laws on the books.

— This story was updated at 6:50 p.m.