Al Franken appears set to be sworn in as U.S. Senator on Tuesday, July 7. EFCA steward, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) said last month that he was waiting on Franken’s seating to introduce the "compromise" version of the bill that he has been working on with Democrats and organized labor. That has led many to speculate that a revised EFCA may be brought to the Senate floor in the next week or so. Politico notes today:
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), sponsor of the labor-backed Employee Free Choice Act, has been telling union leaders that Franken’s presence could accelerate the push to create a compromise bill more quickly than Reid’s 2010 timeline, according to people familiar with the situation.
Democrats are short two ailing members — Sens. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) — two legislative titans who simply can’t be counted on to show up for any given vote at this point in their lives.
Then there are a handful of members on Reid’s right flank — Nebraska’s Ben Nelson, Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, Indiana’s Evan Bayh and wild-card independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut — who tend to be loyal but could buck him on health care reform or climate change legislation.
Add endangered 2010 candidates Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and the number of rock-solid cloture votes in Reid’s pocket drops to between 52 and 54.
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has identified a number of Senators who have either expressed opposition to, or concern with, EFCA in its current form, and asked its membership to reach out to them:
While it is important that every Member of Congress hear from manufacturers (and distributors) on this important issue, it is critical to contact the following Senators during the July 4th recess period to urge them to oppose all votes (including cloture) on EFCA in any form:
Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), phone 202-224-5623, fax 202-228-1377
Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) phone 202-224-5852, fax 202-228-5036
Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) phone 202-224-6342, fax 202-228-2563
Senator Mary Landrieu(D-LA) phone 202-224-5824, fax 202-224-9735
Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) phone 202-224-4843, fax 202-228-1371
Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) phone 202-224-6551, fax 202-228-0012
Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) phone 202-224-2353, fax 202-228-0908
Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) phone 202-224-4254, fax 202-228-1229
Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) phone 202-224-2023, fax 202-224-6295
Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) phone 202-224-4024, fax 202-228-6363
Regrettably, only Specter and Pryor have been reported to be involved in Sen. Harkin’s "compromise" discussions. Since those conversations also appear to involve the AFL-CIO, but not a single member of the business community or Republican caucus, one might seriously contest the use of the term "compromise" to describe what is truly going on. Hopefully, the American public will at least have the opportunity to hear and consider a sober, reflective debate about the respective positive and negative elements of any proposed labor reform bill.