With increased Democratic Congressional membership as result of last month’s election, one can expect Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to exert extraordinary efforts to pass legislation liberal Democrats have long hoped to move through both chambers of Congress.
If successful, the legislation will be passed along for the new chief executive’s signature — a president who earned the distinction of being the most liberal senator in a body not wanting for liberal lawmakers.
The combined prospects for mischief by the 44th president and the 111th Congress are worrisome.
Congressional observers have noted, as the Wall Street Journal‘s Naftali Bendavid wrote, that “Democratic congressional leaders, eager to trumpet that change has come to Washington, are looking to enact quickly a series of popular bills in January in such areas as renewable energy, children’s health care and embryonic stem-cell research.” Indeed, this will surely come to be. Yet this synopsis does not begin to encompass the mountains of paper that will surely be sent to the Congressional Clerk’s desk.
But one of the items which is eliciting great concern — by businesses, conservatives, and anyone who cherishes core democratic institutions — is the Employee Free Choice Act. Under this measure a union need not afford employees a secret ballot to decide if they want to be represented. Instead, all that is needed is a simple majority of workers to “check cards” — that is, sign a union authorization card in the presence of a union official.
In 2007, the House passed the Employee Free Choice Act, H.R. 800, by a margin of 241-185, but the same bill (S. 1041) failed to invoke cloture in the Senate by a narrow vote of 51-48, nine short of the required 60 supporters. All members who voted in the Senate did so along party lines (with the exception of Republican Arlen Specter and with the Independents Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman voting for cloture as well). At the time, however, it did not matter too much. President Bush would surely have vetoed such law, anyway.
Now, the political make up of Washington is different. President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden are strong supporters of this legislation, and both co-sponsored the bill as United States senators. And, just the other day, Obama transition-team spokesman Dan Pfeiffer reaffirmed the president-elect’s support of the Employee Free Choice Act.