Speaker of the House John Boehner, attends a memorial service for former Speaker Tom Foley on Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC, October 29, 2013.
Aude Guerrucci / POOL

Boehner moves to kill ENDA

In the Senate, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) this morning secured its 60th vote, all but guaranteeing its success against a likely Republican filibuster later today. But if all goes according to plan, what can we expect to see in the GOP-led House?
Speaker John Boehner is not in favor of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, which seems to be heading toward passage in the Senate.
“The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in an email Monday.
It’s worth emphasizing that the Speaker’s office almost certainly made this announcement now, as opposed to later, because he hopes to derail the legislation in the Senate. If Republicans in the upper chamber are led to believe their vote is irrelevant because the House will fight to protect discrimination anyway, the argument goes, then maybe GOP senators will balk and kill bill.

There is, however, no reason to believe this gambit will work. ENDA already has 60 supporters, none of them has said their backing is dependent on expectations of House passage.
Why not just wait and let ENDA die in the lower chamber? Probably because the Speaker knows the bill is broadly popular and enjoys bipartisan backing, and would prefer the Senate do his dirty work for him.
As for Boehner’s position, let’s also not forget that the Republican leader is effectively being presented with a choice: oppose discrimination in the workplace or prevent possible lawsuits that may or not exist at some point in the future. For now, Boehner is prioritizing the latter.
Of course, this naturally leads to the obvious follow-up question: does the Republican House Speaker also oppose prohibitions against job discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, religion, national origin, disability, or genetic information? Does Boehner believe such protections lead to “frivolous litigation and cost American jobs”?
And while we’re at it, here’s another inquiry: how’s that Republican rebranding campaign going?