Roll Call reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Thursday that passing EFCA is no longer a priority for the Senate this year:
Speaking at a Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, Reid said the chamber’s schedule is too crowded to consider the Employee Free Choice Act, otherwise known as “card check.”
"We have too many other things on our plate,” Reid said.
But even if the Senate’s schedule was freed up later this year, it is unlikely Reid would bring the bill to the floor short of major changes to the legislation. Republicans have universally panned the bill — as have a few Democrats — making it impossible for Reid to break a Republican filibuster.
The Roll Call piece refers to this Las Vegas Review Journal article covering Reid’s address to the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. It would seem that Reid’s comments confirm recent speculation reagrding the timing of EFCA’s treatment in the Senate. Earlier this week, the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka indicated the White House said they would not push EFCA until at least after the Senate resolved the current healthcare debate. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) subsequently suggested that might not happen before the end of the year.
The passing of Senator Kennedy (D-MA) this week further complicated the timeline for EFCA’s consideration as it reduces the Democrat caucus in the Senate to 59 votes under the best of circumstances to pursue cloture on any particular piece of legislation. While there are some in Massachusetts now pursuing a politically-motivated amendment of state law, the statutes — amended in 2004 to prevent then Gov. Mitt Romney (R) from filling Sen. Kerry’s seat (D-MA) if he won the Presidency — currently prohibit the Governor from appointing a replacement to the Senate. A special election must be held between 145 and 160 days after the vacancy — or not before late January 2010.
It remains to be seen whether the House will proceed with consideration of the bill this year, if for no other reason than to force candidates for office in 2010 to take a position.