Senators Pryor, Landrieu and Hagan back controversial measure amid tough re-election campaigns
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) – Senators from the South split along party lines on a pivotal vote to pass a bill extending workplace non-discrimination protection to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Americans.
Among the senators voting in favor of the Employment Non-Discriminaton Act were three Southern Democrats facing tough re-election battes in 2014 — Senators Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Kay Hagan of North Carolina.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is also facing a tough re-election battle in 2014, voted against ENDA, as the bill is known. His likely Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, has come out in favor of ENDA.
The final tally in the on November 7 was 64-32. However, ENDA is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled House, where it will run into a wall of opposition from religious conservatives. House Speaker John Boehner opposes the measure, making it unclear if ENDA will even come up for a vote.
Of the Senate’s 53 Democrats, 52 – include seven from the South – voted for the bill, along with two independents. Ten Republicans also broke ranks to support ENDA, but that list included none of the 21 Republican senators representing Southern states.
Two GOP senators from the South did not cast a vote – Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and Jeff Sessions of Alabama. However, Sessions opposed ENDA in a procedural vote earlier in the week that Coburn also skipped.
Other Southern Democrats voting yes were Bill Nelson of Florida; Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia; and Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Landrieu and Hagan have been long-time co-sponsors of ENDA. However, Pryor did not announce a position on the measure until a week before the vote, providing the Arkansas Times with confirmation through his press office but making no formal announcement on either his Senate or campaign Web sites.
Pryor is being challenged by GOP Rep. Tom Cotton, who has so far not reacted to Pryor’s decision to support ENDA.