Rep. Paul D. Ryan may be open to voting for legislation that would protect gay and lesbian people from discrimination in the workplace, CQ Roll Call has learned. Conditional support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act from the influential Wisconsin Republican, who is also the Budget chairman and was the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, would be significant as the legislation moves through the Senate this week, then faces an uncertain future in the House. "Congressman Ryan does not believe someone should be fired because of their sexual orientation," said a Ryan spokesman in an email to CQ Roll Call. "That said, any legislation to address this concern should be narrowly crafted to guard against unintended consequence."
When House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) moved to kill the Employment Non-Discrimination Act earlier this week, it certainly seemed important. The Speaker is, after all, arguably Congress' most powerful lawmaker, and with Boehner going public with his plan to crush the anti-discrimination legislation, it looked like ENDA's fate was sealed.
But the funny thing is, the debate on the bill moved forward as if the Speaker hadn't said a word. We've reached the point at which Boehner can signal his intentions on an important piece of legislation, and no one on Capitol Hill seems to care too much one way or the other.
Within a few hours of Boehner's announcement on Monday, the Senate defeated a Republican filibuster on ENDA with greater GOP support than expected. Around the same time, House Republican moderates, ignoring Boehner's comments, urged their colleagues to let the House vote up or down on the anti-discrimination bill.
Even Paul Ryan is proceeding as if Boehner's opposition to ENDA is irrelevant.
As a substantive matter, it's entirely unclear what "unintended consequences" the Wisconsin Republican fears and what Ryan would like to see in the bill to prevent them. For that matter, because the congressman has rejected protections for transgendered Americans, it may be difficult to secure his support for the bipartisan Senate bill.
That said, Ryan has voted for ENDA in the past, and if yesterday's comments were any indication, he disagrees with Boehner about the bill's merits.
As such, in the larger context, the Speaker tried to kill ENDA on Monday, and **no one cared**. Work on the bill continues as if Boehner isn't important at all.
Final passage in the Senate is on track for today or tomorrow.