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 CollinsOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — VA reform bill heads to Trump's desk Senate panel to consider ban on prescription drug 'gag clauses' Pressure rising on GOP after Trump–DOJ fight’s latest turn MORE (Maine), Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteThe Hill's Morning Report: Koch Network re-evaluating midterm strategy amid frustrations with GOP Audit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years MORE (N.H.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanLongtime tax aide leaving Senate Finance Committee Ex-McConnell policy aide joining lobby firm WATCH: Sen. Flake: “More doubtful” North Korean summit will happen  MORE (Ohio), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerKennedy retirement rumors shift into overdrive McConnell: Midterms will be 'very challenging' for GOP Singer Jason Mraz: Too much political 'combat' in Washington MORE (Nev.), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkThis week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill Trump attending Senate GOP lunch Tuesday High stakes as Trump heads to Hill MORE (Ill.) and Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchSenate Finance Committee releases 22 opioid bills to mark up in ‘coming weeks’ Republicans think Trump is losing trade war McConnell tells senators he might scrap August recess MORE (Utah).

Another GOP supporter of ENDA, Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — VA reform bill heads to Trump's desk Senators introduce bill to measure progress in opioid fight Dems win nail-biter in charity congressional soccer game 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 BaldwinMcConnell: Midterms will be 'very challenging' for GOP Vukmir gets boost with Wisconsin Senate GOP primary endorsement  GOP senate candidate dismisses 'fake outrage' over remarks against Democratic veterans 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 ReidMcConnell not yet ready to change rules for Trump nominees The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate Trump to press GOP on changing Senate rules 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 BoehnerRepublicans fear retribution for joining immigration revolt Freedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights GOP revolts multiply against retiring Ryan 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 BoehnerRepublicans fear retribution for joining immigration revolt Freedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights GOP revolts multiply against retiring Ryan 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 HarkinDem Senator open to bid from the left in 2020 Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Trump should require federal contractors to follow the law 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 McConnellSenators introduce bill to overhaul sexual harassment policy The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Republicans see some daylight in midterm polling Exclusive: Bannon says Rosenstein could be fired 'very shortly' MORE (R-Ky.) and Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Energy: Reporters barred from Day 2 of EPA summit | Dems blame Trump for gas price increases | Massachusetts to get new offshore wind farm Senate Democrats look for traction on gas prices GOP Senate primary heats up in Montana 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.