Here’s how the House and Senate voted on major issues upon returning from their October midterms recess.
Nullifying non-disclosure clauses
Voting 315 for and 109 against, the House on Nov. 16, 2022, passed a bill (S 4524) that would nullify non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in employment contracts that limit or silence the ability of employees to report or discuss alleged acts of sexual assault or harassment against them. The bill also would quash such clauses in the contracts that consumers routinely sign to purchase goods and services. Applying only to future contracts, the bill would render non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses unenforceable in federal, state and tribal courts.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Supporter Lois Frankel, D-Fla., said businesses use NDAs “to cover up their dirty little secrets of sexual abuse that force survivors to bear the trauma in silence. It is not bad enough that a survivor is humiliated, emotionally scarred or physically hurt…. If they are forced to sign an NDA before a dispute arises, they must suffer in silence and not even be able to tell a spouse, a parent or a coworker. If they do, they can be fired or disciplined or sued for damages and attorney’s fees.”
Opponent Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, called the bill “a massive federal overreach” because it “regulates contract law that has been and should be handled at the state level. Some states have decided to regulate confidentiality clauses in contracts. Others have decided not to. That is how our system of government works. That is how our Constitution works, states experimenting to find out what, in fact, works best.”
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where no vote has occurred.
Writing same-sex marriage rights into federal law
Voting 62 for and 37 against, the Senate on Nov. 16, 2022, cleared a 60-vote threshold for ending a Republican-led filibuster against a bill (HR 8404) that would establish as federal law the right to same-sex marriage that the Supreme Court affirmed in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015. In addition, the bill would enshrine in federal law the court’s 1967 Loving v. Virginia ruling that interracial marriage is protected by the equal protection and due protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
The bill also would require states to honor valid out-of-state marriage licenses regardless of the couple’s sex, race, ethnicity or national origin. In addition, the bill would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman and prohibiting federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Although invalidated by the Supreme Court, DOMA remains on the books.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., said: “The Supreme Court should not be in a position to undermine the stability of families with the stroke of a pen. So now Congress must act….By passing this bill, we are guaranteeing same-sex and interracial couples, regardless of where they live, that their marriage is legal and that they will continue to enjoy the rights and responsibilities that all other marriages are afforded.”
Mike Lee, R-Utah, said: The proponents of this bill falsely claim that same-sex marriage is under attack because Justice Thomas suggested in a concurring opinion in Dobbs that the Supreme Court should take a closer look at all of its substantive due process jurisprudence; not necessarily to strike down those rulings, but often to consider whether they should be premised on a different constitutional hook.
A yes vote was to advance the bill to a vote on final passage.