10 Republicans vote to end ENDA debate

Ten Republicans voted with Democrats Thursday to end debate on a bill aimed at ending employment discrimination against the LGBT community.

Final passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is expected around 2 p.m. Thursday.

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Republican Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Energy: Dems raise new questions about Pruitt's security | EPA rules burning wood is carbon neutral | Fourth GOP lawmaker calls for Pruitt's ouster | Court blocks delay to car efficiency fines How much does the FDA really do to promote public health? Trump aide: Mueller probe 'has gone well beyond' initial scope MORE (Maine), 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.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenators press administration on mental health parity Overnight Energy: Watchdogs unveil findings on EPA, Interior controversies | GAO says EPA violated law with soundproof booth | IG says Zinke could have avoided charter flight | GOP chair probes Pruitt's four email addresses GOP fractures over push to protect Russia probe MORE (Alaska), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerSenate GOP wary of new tax cut sequel GOP Senate hopefuls race to catch up with Dems Family, friends mourn death of Barbara Bush MORE (Nev.), 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 PortmanTax rules will be subject to more OMB review under new memo Ending sex trafficking tomorrow requires preventing child abuse today Doctors bristle at push for opioid prescription limits MORE (Ohio), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeWinners and losers from Jim Bridenstine’s confirmation as NASA administrator Manchin, Donnelly back Pompeo Juan Williams: GOP support for Trump begins to crack MORE (Ariz.), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainManchin, Donnelly back Pompeo This week: Senate barrels toward showdown over Pompeo Romney forced into GOP primary for Utah Senate nomination MORE (Ariz.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump struggles to get new IRS team in place Romney forced into GOP primary for Utah Senate nomination Romney won't commit yet to supporting Trump in 2020 MORE (Utah) and Pat Toomey (Pa.) joined Democrats in voting 64-34 to end debate on the bill, which bans workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Sixty votes were needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.

The lead sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: Senate confirms Bridenstine as NASA chief | Watchdog probes Pruitt’s use of security detail | Emails shine light on EPA science policy changes 32 male senators back Senate women's calls to change harassment rules Duckworth brings her baby to Senate vote, drawing a crowd MORE (D-Ore.), said the bill was an issue of fairness and equality because it is legal in nearly half the states to fire someone based on sexual orientation.

Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsOvernight Defense: Lawmakers worry over Syria strategy | Trump's base critical of strikes | Flake undecided on Pompeo | Coast Guard plans to keep allowing transgender members | GOP chair wants to cut B from Pentagon agencies Pompeo faces difficult panel vote after grilling by Dems Pompeo confirms he was interviewed by Mueller MORE (R-Ind.) was the only senator to speak in opposition to the bill after nearly one week of debate, highlighting the changing attitude across the country on gay rights.

“I feel it's vital for this body to stand up for our country's longstanding right to the freedom of religion and speech," Coats said. "For these reasons, I am not able to support this current legislation."

President Obama said he’d sign the legislation into law if it reached his desk, but it seems unlikely that the House will take up the measure.

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerA warning to Ryan’s successor: The Speakership is no cakewalk With Ryan out, let’s blow up the process for selecting the next Speaker Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election MORE (R-Ohio) on Monday said he is opposed to ENDA because it could increase “frivolous” lawsuits.

Because the Senate is expected to pass the bill with bipartisan support, Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidAfter Dems stood against Pompeo, Senate’s confirmation process needs a revamp GOP poised to advance rules change to speed up Trump nominees Dems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination MORE (D-Nev.) said BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerA warning to Ryan’s successor: The Speakership is no cakewalk With Ryan out, let’s blow up the process for selecting the next Speaker Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election MORE should allow a vote.

"I hope Speaker Boehner will reconsider his decision not to bring ENDA up for a vote," Reid said Thursday. "I can’t understand what is going on in the House of Representative. Legislation people want is being held up over there."

ENDA was first proposed in 1994 and passed the House in 2007 but fell one vote short in the Senate that year.