ANOTHER BLOW TO EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE.

Via Martin Kady, Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, she of the egregious estate tax reduction, told some of her constituents today that she will not support the Employee Free Choice Act, which is designed to level the playing field between management and employees during union-organizing campaigns.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., told a Monday meeting of the Little Rock Political Animals Club that she will oppose the Employee Free Choice Act.

Lincoln's office said the senator will release a statement on the legislation this afternoon.

"I cannot support that bill," Lincoln said, according to one attendee. "Cannot support that bill in its current form. Cannot support and will not support moving it forward in its current form."

This is another signal that the legislation will not come to the fore in the current Congress; Arlen Specter's decision to oppose the bill as well essentially sounded the death knell for the legislation, which will need at least one Republican vote to pass an inevitable filibuster. Lincoln voted for cloture when the legislation was filibustered in 2007, but it was clear at the time that the act would not pass the chamber and, even if it did, would have been vetoed.

Both Specter and Lincoln made sure to emphasize the "current form" dodge, which means that the bill could attract their support in a different format, but neither labor nor major business leaders have yet shown any interest in looking for a satisfactory compromise. Without more juice from the administration and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the legislation isn't going anywhere for the time being, and neither of the two has shown much interest in making the act a major priority over, say, the budget and the major policy proposals it contains. Down the road, particularly after the 2010 elections which continue to favor Senate Democrats, this could be a different debate, but for now labor leaders will have to content themselves with pro-worker policy changes that can be made by the executive branch without congressional approval, or seek to adjust the legislation to attract more support. Also: Where Lincoln goes, David Mark Pryor, Arkansas' other senator, may not be far behind.

-- Tim Fernholz

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