News (USA)

Equality Bill vote expected next week in House, but what will happen when it hits the Senate?

A vote in the House of Representatives on the Equality Act, which would modify existing civil rights legislation to ban LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing, education, federal programs, public accommodations and elsewhere within the federal government, could come as soon as next week.

The bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on May 1, by a vote of 22-10, without any support from House Republicans. The testimony against the bill from Republicans was highly contentious, with many focusing on transgender protections under the act.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, no amendments to the Equality Act requested by Republicans were adopted. 

Related: 4 of the 5 “Queer Eye” guys met Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez while lobbying for the Equality Act 

The Equality Act has been introduced before, first in 1974 by Bella Abzug and Ed Koch, with an updated version introduced in 2015. This will, however, be its first time with a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. This will also be the first time that either chamber has actually voted on the bill.

A narrower version, known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was introduced in 1994, and did eventually pass the senate in 2013. 

The bill is widely expected to pass in the House of Representatives, given the bill has 240 sponsors — including three Republicans — and the bill only needs 218 votes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the bill is a priority in this session of Congress. 

Its success is far from guaranteed in the Senate, however, as the Republicans control a majority of seats, even though Senator Tammy Baldwin has said that she thinks it could garner just enough votes to pass. With that in mind, it is also likely that Senate Majority Leader could halt any move forward on the bill. 

It is also extremely unlikely that President Trump would sign the bill if it ever reached the Resolute desk, given that the bill would run counter to much of the President’s stance on LGBTQ issues.

The bill has enflamed conservative and religious groups, who fear the bill would run counter of first amendment rights.

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