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On Friday, the New York Times dropped a bombshell on the labor movement with a report that Senate negotiators had scotched a provision commonly known as 'card check'--which would permit workers to form a union when a majority of a business' employees sign an authorization form--from the Employee Free Choice Act.

Some labor officials played it cool when the news broke, but SEIU president Andy Stern insisted that he expected Congress to vote on the provision one way or another. Now, Stern's turning to his online supporters to make sure that happens.

"The New York Times reported on Friday that the Senate is considering dropping majority signup from the Employee Free Choice Act," Stern writes to a 100,000 person mailing list.

By giving employees the free choice to join unions - and not their bosses - majority signup allows workers to have a voice on the job.

Congress needs to hear about your support for majority signup. Sign my petition to Congress in support of majority signup and the Employee Free Choice Act.


You can read the entire letter below the fold. Stern wants Congress to consider majority sign up, but that could simply mean a vote on an amendment--card check as a stand-alone provision--as opposed to a vote on a bill with the provision already written into it. Union-sympathetic senators have apparently concluded that EFCA will fail if it includes card check, but a vote on the provision alone would at the very least put senators--particularly conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans--on the record.

Meanwhile, at the insistence of Blue Dogs, who'd rather not be forced to take a public stand, the House earlier this year reportedly decided not to consider EFCA until the Senate finishes work on the bill. There's certainly a significant number of House progressives who support the provision. But those progressives will have to speak up very loudly. If the Senate officially rejects the provision before the House takes up the legislation, it will be an extremely tough sell not to go the path of least resistance.

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India on Friday, July 17. From left to right: U.S. Ambassador-Designate Timothy J. Roemer, Secretary of State Clinton, Chief of Protocol Officer Sumit Mallik, Deputy Chief of Protocol Officer S.V. Bijoor.

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton signs a book commemorating the November 26, 2008 terror attacks on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai.

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton meets with India's business leaders. From left to right: Ratan Tata, Charmain of the Tata Group; Secretary Clinton; Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries.

U.S. State Department




Children present a decorated shawl to Secretary Clinton.

U.S. State Department




Members of the Self Employed Women's Association sing "We Shall Overcome" in Gujarati.

U.S. State Department




Father Fraser Mascarenhas, the principal of St. Xavier's College Mumbai, greets Secretary Clinton and Bollywood star Aamir Khan. From left to right: Aamir Khan, Vice-Principal Vivien Amonkar, Secretary Clinton, Father Mascarenhas.

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton and Bollywood star Aamir Khan enter the auditorium at St. Xavier's College in Mumbai.

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton and Self Employed Women's Association Executive Director Reema Nanavaty listen as women artisans share stories of their involvement with SEWA programs.

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton and Minister for Forests and Environment Jairam Ramesh

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton with Sharad Pawar, the Minister of Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (right); and Dr. Mangala Rai, the President of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (left)

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton shops at Dilli Haat, New Delhi.

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton meets with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton and Deepak Pental, vice chancellor of the University of Delhi, address an audience of 700 students, faculty and guests.

U.S. State Department




Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Secretary Clinton

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton and Bollywood star Aamir Khan speak to students in Mumbai.

Newscom




Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Secretary Clinton

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Secretary Clinton shakes hands with Indian Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi during their meeting in New Delhi. Gandhi is the widow of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1991.

Newscom


Walter Cronkite, the voice of the CBS Evening News for 19 years, passed away on July 17, 2009. Cronkite got his start in television presenting CBS's "You Are There" in 1953.

Newscom / WENN.com




Cronkite holds a model of Sputnik.

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Although he memorably wiped away a tear while announcing John F. Kennedy's death and appeared giddy while covering Apollo 11's successful moon mission, Cronkite, seen here in 1967, rarely lost his composure or faltered in his authoritative delivery.

Newscom / WENN.com




Cronkite relaxes in his study.

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Cronkite tries out the reduced gravity simulator at NASA's Langley Research Center in August 1968.

Newscom / NASA / CNP




Cronkite (pictured holding the microphone) interviews the commanding officer of a Marine battalion in Vietnam on February 20, 1968.

National Archives




NASA officials and engineers celebrate the Apollo 11 landing on July 20, 1969 as the CBS telecast featuring Walter Cronkite is broadcast on television screens in Mission Control.

Newscom/ NASA / CNP




Cronkite (right) speaks with President Reagan in March 1981. Cronkite retired on March 6 of that year and was succeeded by Dan Rather. His farewell statement from that night ended with this remark: "Old anchormen, you see, don't fade away; they just keep coming back for more. And that's the way it is: Friday, March 6, 1981. I'll be away on assignment, and Dan Rather will be sitting in here for the next few years. Good night."

Newscom / UPI




Cronkite gives the keynote address at a Columbia School of Journalism panel discussion on media reform in February 2007.

Newscom / John Smock / SIPA




Cronkite arrives at a Tribeca Film Festival party sponsored by Vanity Fair in 2007.

Newscom

TPMDC's update on the biggest initiatives on Capitol Hill.

  • Health Care: The House Energy and Commerce Committee continues marking up the tri-committee health care bill into this evening. Still no word from the Senate Finance Committee, though we're constantly on the lookout for updates. Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee is marshaling its resources toward killing the bill.



  • Nominations: Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to decide whether to report Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor out of committee.

Over the weekend, President Obama finally insisted, in no uncertain terms, that Congress pass a health care reform bill that includes a public option. But if the House and Senate don't each pass legislation before recessing, that might be a harder sell, and these days, the White House seems a bit less confident that they'll meet their deadlines.

But if Democrats are going to get it all done before adjourning early next month, they're going to have to prevail upon conservative members in their own party--many of whom are trying to slow down the entire reform project--that time is of the essence. Just how successful their efforts will be remains to be seen, but for now, they seem to be trying to divide Congress into pro- and anti- reform camps, characterizing Republican calls to delay as political gambits meant to kill the legislation, and asking those on the fence to choose their allegiances. The hope seems to be that, faced with the GOP's naked political considerations, conservative and vulnerable Democrats will resist the urge to aid and abet the White House's enemies on Capitol Hill and in the conservative movement, and support swift action.

To that end, the White House already has its whipping boys. Conservative commentator Bill Kristol, who helped Republicans kill Clinton Care is now advising Republicans to "[r]esist the temptation" for compromise, and "[g]o for the kill."

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The Justice Department has responded to a formal complaint filed by a good-government group over the John Ensign matter by saying in a letter that the complaint should be filed with the FBI, rather than the department's public integrity unit, reports the Las Vegas Sun. And the good government group -- Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) -- has itself responded to DOJ's bureaucratic fastidiousness with what we can only describe as a sassy retort that rubs salt in some recent DOJ wounds.

As requested, CREW has forwarded its complaint to the FBI. Executive Director Melanie Sloan writes:

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A Lake Tahoe reunion organized for Sen. John Ensign's (R-NV) former staffers was postponed indefinitely a few weeks after he admitted to an affair, says a report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The original invitation for the August retreat, to be held at Harrah's Lake Tahoe, reportedly carried the slogan "15 Years of Changing Lives & Building Relationships for a Lifetime." It went out June 5, just a few days before Ensign admitted to an affair with ex-staffer Cynthia Hampton (whose husband, Doug, also worked for Ensign). No word on whether the Hamptons were originally invited.

The cancellation email went out July 7.

We're getting a few more details about that lawsuit filed Friday by Gerald Walpin, alleging that his firing as inspector general for the AmeriCorps program was unlawful.

The Washington Post reports that the suit names as defendants three top officials at the Corporation for national and Community Service (CNCS): Acting CEO Nicola O. Goren, Human Resources Director Raymond Limon and General Counsel Frank Trinity. Documents relating to the firing, which occurred last month, show that Walpin had long had a contentious relationship with CNCS officials, Trinity in particular.

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Forty years ago today, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to land on the moon. This photograph shows the Apollo 11 crew--Aldrin (left), Armstrong (center), and Michael Collins (right)--relaxing during training.

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The Apollo 11 rocket launches on July 16, 1969.

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The lunar module, housing two moon-bound astronauts (Aldrin and Armstrong), undocks from the command module.

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Buzz Aldrin piloted the lunar module.

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NASA flight controllers watch their computer terminals as the lunar module descends.

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Neil Armstrong stands on the moon as part of the first EVA (extravehicular activity) of the lunar mission.

Newscom




Buzz Aldrin oversees a lunar wind experiment.

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Aldrin stands next to the U.S. flag.

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Buzz Aldrin

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Neil Armstrong poses in the lunar module after his historic moonwalk.

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The returning crew took this photograph of Earth.

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NASA mission control celebrates after the Apollo 11 crew splashes down in the Pacific Ocean.

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President Nixon watches as the Apollo 11 astronauts are recovered from their splashdown point.

Newscom / NASA / CNP




Apollo 11 astronauts, still in their quarantine van, are greeted by their wives upon arrival at Ellington Air Force Base.

nasa.gov




Neil Armstrong (center), Michael Collins (left), and Buzz Aldrin (right) address a joint session of Congress on September 16, 1969.

Newscom / NASA / CNP

In a hypothetical 2012 general election contest between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Obama, the vote would be tied at 45 percent each, according to a new Rasmussen phone survey.

Rasmussen tends to skew Republican. Conversely, a May survey by Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling had Romney losing to Obama, 35 to 53 percent.

Romney ended his last bid for the presidency in February 2008.

The new Rasmussen poll also said that in a 2012 matchup against Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Obama would win 48 percent to 42 percent.

TPMLivewire