House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was on the “Tonight Show” last week and reflected a bit about the challenges of his leadership post. “I like to describe my job as trying to get 218 frogs in a wheelbarrow long enough to pass a bill,” he told Jay Leno. “It’s hard to do.”
Often, that’s true, especially given the current circumstances and Congress’ lack of productivity reaching unprecedented levels. Even routine legislating hasn’t been this difficult in recent memory.
But sometimes, putting together 218 votes to pass a bill would be easy if only Boehner would actually bring legislation to the floor for a vote. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, for example, already passed the Senate fairly easily, and would likely pass the House if given a chance. All the Speaker has to do is schedule a vote.
That apparently isn’t going to happen.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) apparently told the 113-member LGBT Equality Caucus that there is “no way” the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would pass this year. According to Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), who spoke with the Washington Blade, Boehner “said it wasn’t going to happen in this session.” The meeting took place sometime last week..
This isn’t exactly surprising, but it’s nevertheless disappointing for civil-rights proponents.
For context, note that Boehner’s previous public comments on ENDA, which would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, came in November.
“I am opposed to discrimination of any kind in the workplace or anyplace else, but I think this legislation … is unnecessary and would provide a basis for frivolous lawsuits,” Boehner said at the time. “People are already protected in the workplace.”
For the record, the Speaker was wrong – under federal law, employers can legally fire employees if they’re gay, or even if they think the employees are gay – and people aren’t already protected in the workplace.
And thanks to his decision to block a vote on ENDA, they’ll stay unprotected for quite a while longer.