Specter opposes card-check bill, won’t be going Democratic


There was some talk in the last couple weeks that Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the only Jewish Republican in the Senate, might jump from the Republicans to the Democrats before his re-election bid next year. Today, with Specter’s decision to oppose the Employee Free Choice Act, that possibility is dead. Here’s the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza on Specter’s decision to vote against the legislation:

Sen. Arlen Specter’s (R-Pa.) decision to vote against the Employee Free Choice Act, a reversal of a position he took just two years ago, is evidence of the seriousness with which he views the looming primary challenge from former Rep. Pat Toomey.

Specter announced his opposition to the legislation during a speech on the Senate floor early this afternoon and immediately drew plaudits from conservatives. "Senator Specter has come through in the clutch," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "This is almost certain to be the single most important vote of 2009."

Specter cited the alleged elimination of the secret ballot in EFCA as the main reason he is opposing the legislation.

He also noted that his decision is likely to doom the bill with all 59 Democrats (assuming Al Franken is seated in the Senate) will vote to end debate on EFCA while all 41 Republicans will cast a "no" vote.

"In a highly polarized Senate, many decisive votes are left to a small group who are willing to listen, reject ideological dogmatism, disagree with the party line and make an independent judgment. It is an anguishing position, but we play the cards we are dealt."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid insisted that the bill still could be passed, maintaining that Specter was "not the only Republican that has indicated a willingness to consider
something being done.",

EFCA, which is known as "card check" to Republicans, is the hottest button issue of the 111th Congress. Democrats largely see the legislation as a much-needed course correction to allow workers to more easily form unions. Republicans cast it as an anti-business measure that would allow organizers to pressure their colleagues into joining unions.

In 2007, Specter was the lone Republican vote for EFCA, which received 51 total votes — well short of the 60 required to shut off debate in the Senate.

Specter did hint last week, though, that he could still make an independent run for re-election, but he couldn’t do a Joe Lieberman-style campaign, since state law prohibits a candidate from running in a primary election and then declaring an independent candidacy.

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