Will the President Move on ENDA Even if Congress Can’t?
In an interesting, and somewhat related development, there appears to be a softening from the White House on signing an executive order to mimic ENDA until the House is in a better shape to pass the legislation.
Until now President Obama has remained firm that he supports only legislative action, suggesting that to sign an executive order would not really be a solution and would in fact undercut future legislative efforts. For this stance, Obama has earned widespread criticism that he is allowing LGBT federal workers to continue to suffer employment discrimination when a remedy is within easy reach. Despite this, the White House had remained firm. Until now.
Asked on Monday, November 4, about ENDA, White House spokesperson Jay Careny reportedly said:
“What we’ve said about this is two things,” Carney said. “One, the preferable and better path has been through Congress because that would be inclusive. An executive order that addresses federal contractors obviously would not be inclusive; it would not extend beyond federal contracts. So, we’re focused on getting ENDA through Congress. When I used to answer questions about an executive order by saying that, there was great skepticism that it would get this far, and we have come to a moment where quite likely, in fact possible, that the Senate will pass this, so we’re going to keep pressing ahead.”
The Washington Blade pressed Carney as to whether the President is open, then, to signing the order in the near term. Carney would not be drawn on that matter, but the language here is markedly softer than in previous comments and would seem to suggest that, if Democratic lawmakers cannot find enough Republican support in the House to get around Boehner’s stonewalling, the White House might use this as an interim measure while, at the same time, being able to squeeze political gain out of it.
Boehner’s intransigence on this issue doesn’t just put him out of step with liberals or the mainstream, it actually throws him far beyond majority Republican opinion on this issue and will no doubt feature as part of the 2014 Congressional elections where Democratic lawmakers hope to gain back the House majority.
The irony of this is that Boehner need only get out of his own way in order to let the issue play out, he need not oppose the legislation and could simply let the votes fall where they may, but so entrenched is his “Party of No” stance that, sadly, it seems to have become almost automatic.
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