A bill banning workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans has passed the US Senate – but it faces immense hurdles in the House of Representatives where the Republican Party holds the balance of power.

Not a single senator took the opportunity to give a speech opposing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) when it came to the floor yesterday evening.

The Democratic-led Senate voted 61-30 to open debate on the legislation, with several Republicans backing it.

ENDA is expected to win final Senate approval as early as this week.

But prior to the vote House Speaker John Boehner warned Republicans against supporting the bill, saying it would cost US jobs, effectively killing off chances of ENDA progressing further – at least for now.

Unlike in the Senate, the GOP has majority control of the House of Representatives.

On Sunday, President Barack Obama called on Congress to pass the legislation. He said: “This bill has strong bipartisan support and the support of a vast majority of Americans. It ought to be the law of the land”.

President Obama does have the power to enforce ENDA via an executive order – but the White House remains adamant that it should be implemented with congressional approval.

Following the result, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney congratulated the Senate on its vote and urged Congress to pass the final bill.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook also called on Congress to pass ENDA. “Those who have suffered discrimination have paid the greatest price for this lack of legal protection,” he said.

ENDA would make it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. It is already illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, nationality, religion, age or disability.