As I am sure you remember from Schoolhouse Rock, it's hard to make a Bill into a Law. In order for a Bill to be presented to the President for signature, it must pass both houses of Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate. Here it is in case you've forgotten:
As you can see from the video, even after being referred by a House Committee to a floor vote, and gaining the requisite 218 votes for passage in the House, this is not the end of the story -- far from it. The whole process must be repeated in the Senate, and then the President must sign it. The House is almost there, though more work is needed to inoculate weak-kneed Representatives for crunch time.
But the Senate -- that's going to be door-to-door combat.
Senate Numerology: Why 51 Is Not a Majority in a 100-Person Senate
The magic number in the Senate these days on a bill of this type is 60. Even though a bill supposedly passes when a majority of the 100 Senators votes for it, that's not the way it works in actual practice.
The Senate has some crazy rules. If any Senator feels like it, he or she can move for a procedural filibuster, which blocks the usual rule-by-the-majority, in which 51 votes is enough to pass a bill. Then the bill can only be voted upon if 60 Senators vote to stop the filibuster.
It's pretty likely that someone will move for a filibuster. That means we need 60 Senators
Reading the Senatorial Tea-Leaves: The Forty-Niners
One of these, however, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), has indicated that he is, in fact, undecided. Click here to email him.
In addition, there are also two Senators who have never co-sponsored such a bill, but who should be included in the yes column because their offices confirmed to our Facebook Inclusive ENDA members that they will support the bill. Those are newly minted Senator Al Franken (MN) and Senator Mark Warner (VA).
That makes 49 in the hopefully yes column.
I note that there are some Senators on this list whose offices could not say when called what their position is on an inclusive ENDA. These include the following Senators: (click on their names to send an email)
Even though they won't yet provide confirmation to us, I am fairly hopeful they are supportive, but simply waiting for the Senate bill to come out before offering a statement.
Who Should We Target in the Senate?
I have chosen 17 Senators to specifically target in the Senate based on party and voting patterns. They are the "swing" votes that will make or break ENDA. If you are in one of these Senator's states, it is particularly important that you email, call and meet with them.
The first group in this list is composed of those Democrats who have co-sponsored bills including the language of sexual orientation only. They're half-way there. There are 6 on that list. (Click on their names to email)
The second part of the list is composed of those Democratic Senators who have never co-sponsored a bill including either sexual orientation or gender identity, and who have not publicly confirmed their support of ENDA. They are also good prospects; presumably they will feel an interest in voting with their party. There are 6 on that list. Click on their names to email:
The third part of the list is composed of those Republican Senators who have co-sponsored a bill that includes either of these terms. This makes them more likely to cross party lines and vote for ENDA. Other Republican Senators may also join them, but these are the ones I think most likely to support ENDA. Two of these are already included in my list of 49 above, but, as the investment firm ads say, past performance is no guarantee of future results. There are four on that list. (Click their name to email)
John Ensign (R-NV) (supported S1145, the 2005 hate crimes bill, which included sexual orientation but not gender identity, and he's in hot water with his party over a scandal, and didn't co-sponsor S909 this year, but hey, you never know.)
Adding in the two previously uncounted Senators (Lugar and Ensign) makes 63
So the tea leaves suggest there are possibly 64 votes in the Senate in favor of ENDA if we get all our ducks in a row.
That's pretty close. I also hear that Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd are not feeling well, and are not often in the Senate to vote.
It's close, but we can do it if we get smart and get targeted.
The key is contacting your Senators and asking them to support the Senate version of ENDA. (It'll be the same text as HR 3017, but with a number starting with "S" for Senate.) If you're in one of these target districts, you definitely ought to be contacting their offices to set up a meeting to discuss ENDA in the local state office near you.
If we can get a few more fair-minded Republicans to support the bill, that would be very, very helpful.
P.S. On Thursday, July 16, the Senate voted to attach the hate crimes bill to the Defense Reauthorization Act. Voting in favor were Republicans Murkowski and Voinovich. That's a good sign for their support of ENDA.