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Tammy Baldwin assigned to key Senate panels for LGBT issues

CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Thursday, December 13, 2012
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Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin has landed seats on Senate committees that may address key issues that persist for the LGBT community in the coming Congress, including employment discrimination and school bullying.

In a notice published Wednesday, the Democratic Steering Committee announced it has selected Baldwin, who’ll be the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate, to sit on four committees: the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee; the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee; the Senate Special Committee on Aging; and the Senate Budget Committee.

Tammy Baldwin
File photo by Michael Key, Washington Blade

The Senate HELP Committee has jurisdiction over a key piece of pro-LGBT legislation — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — as well as the measures that would address school bullying known as the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act.

Meanwhile, the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee has jurisdiction over a pro-LGBT bill that Baldwin has long championed in the U.S. House — the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act — which would extend health and pension benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees.

The notice states committee assignments for all Democratic caucus members, including Baldwin, were made during a Democratic Steering Committee meeting held on the same day. Additionally, the notice says these assignments are subject to approval by the full Democratic caucus and approval of an organizing resolution by the full Senate when the 113th Congress convenes in January.

Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, congratulated Baldwin on her selection to the Senate HELP Committee and pledged to work with her on the effort to move ENDA to the Senate floor.

“She has been a tremendous champion for workplace fairness, and we are thrilled that she will bring her powerful voice to the upcoming debate about whether all LGBT Americans deserve a fair shot at the American dream,” Almeida said. “We are optimistic this committee will debate and mark-up ENDA in 2013, and we will push for Senate leaders to move the bill from committee to the floor of the Senate for a long-overdue vote of that full chamber.”

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