I may have jumped the gun just a little in yesterday's post about the Employee Free Choice Act. At the time, I said that the legislation is basically finished for the rest of the congress, barring another GOP Senator stepping in to fulfill the Specter role of voting for cloture. I suggested this was a bad idea for conservatives because this is perhaps their one near-term opportunity where the balance of power could allow them some opportunity to reach a compromise that weakens the bill. But it's not clear that anyone from labor or their allies in the congress are at all interested in such a thing, especially after both sides rejected outright last week's middle-ground proposal from more progressive businesses.

In any case, Specter's speech announcing that he would not vote for cloture on the act as written also included a list of potential changes to the bill that would presumably persuade him to vote for it. (I've included the list after the jump). Anyone following the debate is familiar with these ideas, which include an accelerated election process, stricter enforcement of NLRA regulations and other tweaks designed to even the process witout disturbing the status quo too much. I think, for labor, the calculus on whether to pursue this deal is directly connected to the Democrats 2010 Senate map. Right now, it looks like Democrats could gain enough seats to do EFCA without Republicans. Our commenters, I know, despair of red state Dems ever voting for the bill, but with sixty-plus votes I'm confident that the president can whip them into line. But if the political climate deteriorates for Democrats, then perhaps this compromise would be on the table. Labor won't be pleased with this, but the administration might, since health care reform and green jobs are the next two priorities on the union lists.

-- Tim Fernholz

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