Some Republicans are likely to protest Thursday when the genetic nondiscrimination bill is expected to hit the floor and again when Democrats attempt to add hate crimes legislation to the Defense Department authorization bill. Unlike typical red meat votes, the genetic nondiscrimination legislation appears likely to pass and be signed by the president.
Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said Wednesday he hoped to bring up – before the Memorial Day recess — a bill requiring employers to provide paid sick leave as well as a measure to ensure that insurance companies provide mental health care coverage equal to coverage for physical ailments. The mental health parity legislation also has a chance at passage.
“I wouldn’t confuse red meat with issues Republicans simply hate,” said one Senate Democratic leadership aide of the legislation scheduled to hit the Senate floor. “We find ourselves in a period where we’re waiting for a supplemental [war spending bill], and there are issues that have been on our agenda for years that we haven’t been able to pass, and now we’re trying to.”
Additionally, Democrats have been considering reviving the fight over extending unemployment insurance and expanding food stamp benefits by attaching those provisions to the supplemental bill that is expected to move through both chambers next month. Democrats attempted unsuccessfully to add the unemployment and food stamp issues to the economic stimulus bill that passed earlier this year.
“The meat and potato issues are health care, education, energy prices, jobs – and those are our strengths,” Schumer said. “All of those are going to come up.”