Big Labor vs. Democrats

Rumors and chatter on Capitol Hill are swirling that "progress" is being made on the Employee Free Choice Act, commonly known as "card check." News reports suggested that Sen. Tom Harkin intends to bring up the measure on the Senate floor in July. But do we believe him? And more importantly, would Democrats or Republicans benefit from what would surely be a knock-down-drag-out fight?

There are grounds for skepticism. After all, with health care and Supreme Court confirmation fights brewing, it seems the congressional calendar is already jammed. Yes, it is true that the newest Democratic Senator Arlen Specter has let Big Labor officials know that they won't be "disappointed" by his vote when it comes up. But what's in the compromise? And more importantly who's going to tell Sens. Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu and other nervous Red State Democrats that they have to walk the plank on this one?

As one Capitol Hill Republican aide told Pajamas Media: "Sounds like it might be a bit of bluster. ... Still, even still, even if all of this is as Harkin claims, they still only have 59 [votes] without Franken.  But if he comes in [to the Senate], they're going to have to definitely flip Nelson or some of the other nervous Dems."

There are two possibilities. One option: Harkin is doing his best to create the aura of momentum to keep Big Labor off his back. Or alternatively, there is some magic bullet that will convince not just Specter but the handful of moderate and conservative Democrats -- who are already under pressure from constituents for too much government spending and debt -- to carry yet more water for a liberal interest group bill, one that the public overwhelmingly disapproves by a large margin.

One thing is for certain: Virginia gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell would like nothing better than a big, visible fight on this one. While the Democratic primary raged McDonnell made a point of speaking out clearly in opposition to the bill and zapping his potential rivals who weaved and bobbed, trying to avoid taking a stance. They certainly didn't want to offend Big Labor donors who were pouring money into the race. However, Virginia is a right-to-work state which has never had a widespread affection for organized labor.