Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) just dealt a big blow to the labor movement by announcing publicly that he would support a GOP filibuster of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), unions’ No. 1 priority for this year and a subject of intense lobbying on both sides of the aisle.
“My vote on this bill is very difficult for many reasons,” Specter said in a Senate floor speech, minutes after the news was broken by the Washington Independent. “It is very hard to disappoint many friends … who are urging me to vote their way.”But Specter affirmed that he would join his fellow Republicans to block cloture on EFCA, effectively dooming the union-organizing bill’s chances of becoming law in its current form. The Pennsylvania senator, who faces a tough re-election challenge from the right, was the only GOPer to support breaking his party’s filibuster on EFCA when it last came up for a vote two years ago.
Between Specter’s opposition — he asserted today that his 2007 vote on EFCA did not equate to “supporting the bill on the merits” — and the stated uncertainty of several centrist Democratic senators, it looks like the labor-backed bill is mired in the Washington mud for now. A “compromise” proposal floated by three CEOs and promoted by erstwhile Obama critic Lanny Davis has met with a sound rejection from Democratic leaders.
Late Update: The response from K Street is unsurprisingly warm … Specter probably doesn’t have to worry about countering a labor-union endorsement of his Democratic opponent. From National Association of Manufacturers President John Engler:
I am very pleased that Senator Arlen Specter has decided to vote against cloture on the EFCA. EFCA is a flawed piece of legislation that will destroy jobs and prolong the current economic recession. Manufacturers stand behind Senator Specter’s decision to vote against EFCA and appreciate his decision to put working men and women, the economy and the nation first.