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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The lead sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyChicago police officer arrested for role in Capitol riot Democrats reintroduce bill to create 'millionaires surtax' EPA chief emphasizes staffing, environmental justice in Appropriations testimony 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 CoatsWill the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? Experts see 'unprecedented' increase in hackers targeting electric grid Intel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump 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 BoehnerAre maskless House members scofflaws? Israel, Democrats and the problem of the Middle East Joe Crowley to register as lobbyist for recording artists 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 ReidNevada governor signs law making state first presidential primary Infighting grips Nevada Democrats ahead of midterms Lobbying world MORE (D-Nev.) said BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerAre maskless House members scofflaws? Israel, Democrats and the problem of the Middle East Joe Crowley to register as lobbyist for recording artists 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.