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 CollinsMurkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday White House says Kavanaugh ready to testify over 'false allegation' MORE (Maine), Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyottePallbearers, speakers announced for McCain's DC memorial service and Capitol ceremony Tributes pour in for John McCain Ayotte: I hope McCain's death is a 'calling for more decency, integrity and honor in our politics' MORE (N.H.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate passes bipartisan bill to curb opioid crisis Overnight Health Care: Opioid legislation passes overwhelmingly | DOJ backs Cigna-Express Scripts merger | Senate passes ban on pharmacy gag clauses This week: Allegations inject uncertainty into Kavanaugh nomination MORE (Ohio), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerPoll: Dean Heller running even against Democratic challenger Dems gain momentum 50 days before midterms California was once the epicenter of pollution — time to learn from its green transition 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 HatchDem rep who met with Kavanaugh accuser: 'She wanted her truth to come out' Senate passes bipartisan bill to curb opioid crisis Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday MORE (Utah).

Another GOP supporter of ENDA, Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMurkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow 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 BaldwinPrimary turnout soars in 2018 with Dems leading charge Senate rankings: 10 seats most likely to flip Five biggest surprises in midterm fight 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 ReidKavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow Dems can’t ‘Bork’ Kavanaugh, and have only themselves to blame Dem senator: Confidential documents would 'strongly bolster' argument against Kavanaugh's nomination 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 BoehnerJordan hits campaign trail amid bid for Speaker GOP senator says he 'regularly' considers leaving Republican Party Republicans mull new punishments for dissident lawmakers 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 BoehnerJordan hits campaign trail amid bid for Speaker GOP senator says he 'regularly' considers leaving Republican Party Republicans mull new punishments for dissident lawmakers 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 HarkinOn Nicaragua, the silence of the left is deafening Dem Senator open to bid from the left in 2020 Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation 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 McConnellMurkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify McConnell rips Democrats for handling of Kavanaugh nomination Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow MORE (R-Ky.) and Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSome employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump says Dems inflated Puerto Rico death toll | House cancels Friday votes | Florence starts to hit coast The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Facing major hurricane, Trump is tested 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.