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.
The lead sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyDem senator to Trump: 'You have no mandate' GOP senators wary of nuking filibuster Dem senators charge: Trump not draining the swamp 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 CoatsDan CoatsTrump narrows secretary of State field to four finalists 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map 10 Senate seats that could flip in 2018 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 BoehnerLobbying World 'Ready for Michelle' PACs urge 2020 run News Flash: Trump was never going to lock Clinton up 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 ReidTrump flirts with Dems for Cabinet Lawmakers eye early exit from Washington McCain to support waiver for Mattis, Trump team says MORE (D-Nev.) said BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbying World 'Ready for Michelle' PACs urge 2020 run News Flash: Trump was never going to lock Clinton up 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.