Yesterday’s BNA Daily Labor Report (subscription required) repeated a comment Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) made this week on a liberal talk show regarding the Employee Free Choice Act’s prospects:
Harkin told the Bill Press radio show that he is “still trying to maneuver” in an effort to get the necessary 60 votes to move the bill through the Senate.
“To those who think it’s dead, I say think again,” Harkin said, adding “…a lot can happen before Election Day, or maybe in lame duck too.”
The piece then chronicles the Senator’s past statements about the bill’s fate, which BNA suggests tend to depend on the audience to which they are made:
Harkin made the comments about a week after telling the United Auto Workers that he would fight for the legislation “for as long as it takes” (114 DLR C-1, 6/16/10).
In May, however, Harkin acknowledged to a legal conference, where participants were largely against the bill, that he still does not have enough votes to pass the bill as written (92 DLR A-8, 5/14/10). Also, just days before that, he told the International Association of Machinists that he had “no higher priority” than getting EFCA signed into law (90 DLR A-7, 5/12/10).
It remains nearly impossible for EFCA in its current form to pass a Senate filibuster in the current Congress. In a previous statement on the bill, Senator Harkin asserted that he had the 60 votes needed on an undisclosed alternative bill — but that was prior to the passing of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and his replacement in the Senate by Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA). As partisan lines have been drawn sharper since then, it may be questionable whether even some modified version of the bill could pass between now and the next Congress.
In the run-up to the 2010 midterm elections, however, EFCA is certain to keep labor law reform in the news.