Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said to labor activists last Thursday “Card Check” would
probably not pass this year.
In the same speech Harkin also said that he had 60 votes as of July, but Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) could not be present to cast the decisive vote because of his illness. The Massachusetts legislature is considering an appointment to fill the seat before next year’s special election.
Harkin was addressing the American Rights at Work conference in Washington D.C., when he was quoted on the prospects for Card Check.
Bergen Kenny, a spokesperson for the senator, issued the following clarification in response to a request from The Examiner:
“As the American Rights at Work conference proved, the Employee Free Choice Act is very much alive in Congress. Senator Harkin alluded to the fact that a consensus on core principles exists, but no one intends to negotiate those details through the media. Our work continues to enact labor law reform during this session of Congress.”
In a recent conference call, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the minority leader, said Republicans are united in opposing the bill. This means 60 Democratic votes would be needed and there is at least one missing.
Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) in April announced her opposition to The Employee Free Choice Act, which includes “Card Check,” and has not changed her position.
“No change, no update from us, still opposed,” Katie Laning Niebaum, a press spokesperson for Lincoln said. “If there’s another bill out there she will look at it with an open mind but she is still opposed to the current bill.”
Other Democratic senators are also questionable said Katie Packer, executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI).
“Without Lincoln and without the Massachusetts seat filled I don’t know how you get to 60,” she said. “Besides, there are others who have not committed and have expressed a lot of discomfort.”
Packer identified Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.).
“I understand Sen. Harkin’s goal for purposes for this speech was to rev up a crowd and let them know he hasn’t given up on their payback,” Packer said. “The underlying aspects of this bill are so unacceptable to workers and employers that there can be no compromise. The only people who have anything to gain by it are the labor bosses, not the rank and file.”