United States Senator Bob Casey called on Speaker of the House John Boehner to bring the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to the House floor for a vote in a letter sent on November 12.
The bill, which passed the Senate with a majority vote of 64-32 on November 7, now has to pass the House in order to make it into law. The problem: the Speaker of the House has no intention of bringing it to the floor for a vote.
Speaker Boehner has been an outspoken critic of ENDA since its introduction in the Senate, citing financial costs to small businesses and a changing cultural climate as reasons why he does not support the proposed legislation.
“The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel said in an email statement in regards to ENDA.
“We have always believed this is covered by existing law,” said an aide of Boehner’s position on the issue.
In a letter written to Boehner on November 12, Senator Casey pointed out the faulty logic and lack of data supporting the claims made by the Speaker’s office.
“Today, in twenty-nine states, including Pennsylvania, you can be fired just for being gay or transgender,” wrote Casey, directly refuting the claim that protections for LGBT workers are already covered by US law.
Addressing Boehner’s claim that the legislation would hurt the economy and cost more jobs, Casey referred to data from a Pew Research report that found that discrimination in the workplace is harmful for business.
“The absence of basic employment protection for this community hurts hardworking citizens and hampers economic growth, costing employers an estimated $64 billion each year resulting from unnecessary turnover,” he stated.
Boehner’s claim makes even less sense when taking into account that the majority of the Fortune 500 companies already have similar nondiscrimination policies such as ENDA, and have found that they support the growth of business.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, in an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal, expressed his support for ENDA, and his belief that such policies create a better work environment, which increases productivity.
“People are much more willing to give of themselves when they feel that their selves are being fully recognized and embraced,” he said in the piece.
Despite public opinion and factual data, Boehner is publicly opposed to ENDA, and has the power to stall the bill in the House, never bringing it to the House floor for a vote. Senator Casey’s letter calls on Boehner to bring ENDA for an up or down vote.
“ENDA deserves an up or down vote in the House. All U.S. workers deserve to be judged on the quality of the job they do, nothing more, nothing less,” he writes.
“I again urge you to allow a vote on ENDA on the House floor before the end of the year.”