Chalk up another vote to bring the controversial Employee Free Choice Act, known as EFCA, to the full U.S. Senate for consideration. Ending plenty of speculation, a spokeswoman for Colorado Sen. Mark Udall on Wednesday morning told The Plum Line’s Greg Sargent the Boulder Democrat will cast a key vote to bring the sweeping labor-backed legislation to a vote.
That brings backers one step closer to the necessary 60 votes required for the Senate to hear the legislation, which would then only need a simple majority vote to pass.
Udall spokesperson Tara Trujillo confirms to me that Udall will cast the first vote in favor of EFCA. “He believes it’s important to have debate on big issues,” Trujillo says.
“Mark has always said this is not a perfect bill,” she adds, “but he believes workers should not be intimidated in the workplace.” Trujillo said it was uncertain what he would do on the final vote. “We don’t know what the final bill is going to look like,” she said.
As for other Democrats, the Udall move comes on the heels of Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s declaration she’d vote against allowing EFCA to the floor, while Virginia Sen. Mark Warner — considered a centrist in the vein of Udall and Colorado’s other senator, Michael Bennet — said he’ll support bringing EFCA to a vote.
EFCA, described by opponents as the “card-check” bill, would make it easier for unions to organize. The bill has occasioned apocalyptic arguments from both sides and is seen as a key test of labor’s strength with the majority Democrats in Congress.
Sargent parses the growing support for an EFCA vote in light of the near certainty backers won’t reach the required 60 votes to forestall a filibuster:
Opponents say these declarations are meaningless because the pro-EFCA forces won’t get the needed 60 votes in any case. But there will likely be compromise negotiations, and the more Senators labor has in its camp, the less concessions labor may need to make. This isn’t to say labor has the leverage, just that these machinations do matter.
Meanwhile, Bennet is the target of a broadside from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which blasted the Democrat on Tuesday for telling constituents he’s working toward seeking “consensus” on the bill.
“Despite having been a member of the Senate for less than three months, Michael Bennet has clearly mastered the skill of Washington doublespeak,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson in a statement. “With our nation facing an economic crisis, Coloradans are looking to their elected officials for real and decisive leadership — not politically calculated maneuvers. Senator Bennet should stop trying to have it both ways and show some real leadership on a critical issue facing Colorado.”
A spokesman for Bennet’s campaign declined to comment on the NRSC attack.
It’s an open question whether aiming for consensus qualifies as Washington doublespeak — or is precisely what voters want in a lawmaker. In any case, Bennet’s designs could be more complicated than that, as The Colorado Independent’s Wendy Norris pointed out Tuesday in a post about the bigger picture.