Thursday, March 12, 2009

Counting heads on EFCA -- from Congress Matters

Interesting take on the Senate vote shape up...

From Congress Matters

EFCA head-counting
by Nathaniel Ament Stone
Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 10:43:48 AM PDT

The Employee Free Choice Act was introduced yesterday as H.R.1409 (George Miller with 222 cosponsors) and S.560 (Ted Kennedy with 39 cosponsors). With 223 total sponsors in the House, obviously the House is ready to approve EFCA, no questions asked. But what about that darned Senate? 40 total sponsors, with 60 votes needed for cloture.

Well, all 40 sponsors are Democrats (including Lieberman and Sanders in that definition). Knowing that Franken hasn't yet been seated but likely will be by July, we can be close to 100% sure that there are 41 votes locked in for cloture (the Dems won't be dumb enough to miss out because of Kennedy's ailing health...nor would he miss that vote for the world. If he resigns before then, his replacement will make it, but either way, there will be a second Massachusetts vote for cloture.)

Which 18 Democrats aren't signed on as cosponsors?

Arkansas: Lincoln and Pryor (Pryor is supposedly leaning toward support, but doesn't want to be too vocal, while Lincoln is wavering. Both are getting their arms twisted by Walmart, the unchallenged corporate king in Arkansas.)

California: Feinstein (I'm nearly 100% sure she supports it, though.)

Colorado: Bennet and Udall (pretty sure they both support's just that they're both rather quiet folks.)

Indiana: Bayh (here's a fun fact: he's been the least loyal Democrat, other than Ben Nelson, so far in the 111th Congress, bucking us frequently on amendment votes though rarely bucking us on cloture. But Indiana is hurting economically, and is pretty pro-labor as swing states go.)

Louisiana: Landrieu (getting tons of pressure from the mucky-mucks in the oil, natural gas, and fishing industries, all of whom hold a lot of sway in right-to-work Louisiana. She's worth working over, though...)

Missouri: McCaskill (I'm pretty sure she's on the right Bennet and Udall of Colorado, she doesn't like being identified too obviously with union bosses, but she's one of the biggest common sense populists in the Senate. Missouri is a major labor state, at that...Dick Gephardt built his career on it.)

Montana: Baucus and Tester (not a right-to-work state or an especially anti-union one, though nowhere in the Mountain West is labor very powerful except Nevada. They might want to avoid the shrillness of this controversy and stay out, but Baucus chairs the Finance Committee and was the manager of SCHIP expansion and the stimulus in the Senate. I think they'll go for it in the end, Baucus being a major Dem wheeler-dealer and Tester being a freshman who needs to stay on Reid's good side.)

Nebraska: Ben Nelson (says he opposes the bill in its current form. A right-to-work state, and an especially anti-union one at that. He'll be the toughest to get back. Lincoln, Pryor, and Landrieu are more worthwhile efforts. The good news is that, once Kennedy is back/replaced and Franken is seated, we can get 60 without Nelson if Specter stays on the right side of this one. Tough, but doable.)

New Mexico: Bingaman (a Feinstein Democrat...he's low-key but will come down on the right side.)

North Carolina: Hagan(also rumored in the Politico article. North Carolina is probably the second-most anti-union state in the nation, following only South Carolina. Remember that this is the land of Norma Rae, and has a union membership of...get this...2%! By comparison, even famous right-to-work states like Georgia, Florida, Alabama, etc. are more unionized. But, Hagan is a moderate-to-progressive and is a freshman needing to stay in Reid's favors.)

North Dakota: Conrad and Dorgan (both rather quiet, but Dorgan is avowedly pro-labor and Conrad is a key Obama ally and budget guru. They'll vote for it.)

Virginia: Warner and Webb (both fiscal conservatives and social moderates-to-progressives. Another right-to-work state with low union membership. But like Hagan and Tester, these are freshmen and Reid can keep them from moving up the ladder if he chooses. They'll be kept in line...if Reid is as smart as we hope he is.)

Wisconsin: Kohl (a businessman, but one of the more reliable liberals in the Midwest. Don't worry about him.)

Some of these people were cosponsors in 2007...what's up with that? I suppose the stakes were lower when cloture was impossible, and now that it's within reach, the "moderates" are getting cold feet. Special props to people like Tim Johnson, Bill Nelson, Mark Begich, and Sherrod Brown, who are cosponsoring S.560 despite coming from swing or conservative states. Johnson and Nelson hail from right-to-work states, at that.

So, some counting...40 sponsors of the bill + Feinstein, Bennet, Udall of CO, McCaskill, Baucus, Tester, Bingaman, Hagan, Conrad, Dorgan, Warner, Webb, and Kohl = 53 "lean" votes for EFCA (including Kennedy or his replacement in MA). 60, of course, are needed. Lincoln, Pryor, Bayh, Landrieu, and Nelson of NE are all serious concerns, and the latter may be lost for good. If so, the best case scenario is 57 right now, meaning we need Specter, Franken, and someone else (Voinovich of Ohio, a relatively pro-union Republican who is retiring?). Of course, those five Democrats all voted for cloture in 2007, so what real reason other than pressure from business hacks do they have to switch?

This will be the most dramatic cloture vote of 2009.

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