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SEIU Talks EFCA With Specter--Says It's 'Critical' Issue

Between pressure from unions and from Sestak, Specter may be getting the message. At a press conference this afternoon, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), EFCA's lead sponsor, said he and Specter were making early progress toward a compromise on the bill. Their staffs, he said, "have been working diligently over the last several days to get everything ready for a few of us to discuss.... And now there are a few things at the member level - at the Senate level - to see if we can discuss and see if we can shake hands on."

Sestak has been threatening to challenge Specter if Specter doesn't shift his views on a number of issues and, more critically, demonstrate reliability on them. Specter switched parties after determining that he couldn't defeat his likely, conservative challenger, Pat Toomey, in the Republican primary, but may find himself confronted with a mirror-image challenge (though less threatening) from the left now that he's a Democrat.

Toomey, for his part, may have had more institutional support within the GOP before he knocked Specter into the Democratic Party. Now there's at least some chance that Republicans will buck conservatives and back the more moderate former Governor Tom Ridge--who in one poll leads Toomey by a wide margin--should he choose to run.

About The Author

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Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

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