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Susan C.
Republican ME

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  • Drug Quality and Security Act—Motion to Proceed

    by Senator Susan M. Collins

    Posted on 2013-11-06

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    COLLINS. That was an extremely complicated parliamentary request. Perhaps it would be helpful to my colleagues if I gave a little bit of explanation of what occurred.

    The good news, in my judgment, is that the Senate has adopted by voice vote an amendment proposed by Senators Portman, Ayotte, Heller, Hatch, and McCain. I very much appreciate their willingness to work with the cosponsors and sponsors of this legislation.

    Many of the sponsors of this amendment are tied up in hearings, but I expect them to be coming to the floor very shortly to debate this amendment after the fact.

    I wish to explain about what the Portman, Ayotte, Heller, Hatch, and McCain amendment does. The underlying bill, ENDA, includes a pretty broad exemption for religious organizations based on current law in title VII. What the Portman, et al., amendment does is it ensures that Federal, State and local government agencies will not be able to discriminate against these exempt organizations. For example, the amendment would ensure that exempt religious organizations cannot be denied grants or contracts for which they would otherwise qualify from government agencies. It also protects them from discrimination by government agencies from participating in government-sponsored activities.

    I believe this amendment improves the bill. It ensures these organizations--these religious-based organizations that are exempt under ENDA--cannot be suddenly penalized for having that exemption by being denied grants, contracts, other licenses, fees, or whatever, that they would otherwise be entitled to just solely based on the fact they are exempt under ENDA.

    I want to commend Senator Portman, Senator Ayotte, Senator Heller, Senator Hatch, and Senator McCain for making sure these important protections are in place, and that if an organization has a legitimate exemption under this bill, the Federal Government or State government cannot discriminate against that organization that is legitimately claiming an exemption under ENDA.

    I believe this amendment improves the bill and provides a significant protection for exempt religious organizations, and I am very pleased it was accepted by a voice vote.

    I know Senator Portman and Senator Ayotte are on their way and want to speak on the amendment we just adopted.

    Let me explain the second part of the very complicated parliamentary action we just took. At least I will attempt to.

    What we have done is to preserve Senator Toomey's right to get a vote on his amendment. It is my understanding that vote will require 60 votes of the Senate in order to be approved, but it essentially guarantees he is next up. He is next in line for a vote. So his amendment will be the pending amendment.

    Again, I know this was a complicated process, and I want to thank the Chair who was presiding over the Senate, as well as the floor staff on both sides of the aisle, Senator Reid's staff and Senator McConnell's staff, in making sure [[Page S7847]] we protected everybody's rights in this debate. I think that is very important when we are talking about a bill as significant as ENDA.

    Madam President, as I said, I know some of the sponsors are on their way. But since they have yet to reach the floor, rather than filibuster the successful conclusion of the Portman amendment, I will suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

    The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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