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Arlen Specter & The Employee Free Choice Act

6 years ago
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Ex-Democrat, ex-Republican Sen. Arlen Specter's switch back to the Democratic Party today predictably stoked a scathing response from stunned Republican Party leaders. But their anger likely has less to do with the semantics of Specter's partisan designation and more due to the very real, quite legitimate fear of losing key upcoming policy battles.

Chief among these concerns is the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as "card check."

Last month, Sen. Specter announced that he would not support the bill, which makes it easier for unions to assemble by having employees sign a card supporting unionization instead of holding a vote with secret ballots.

Anticipating conservative anxiety over the bill's chances, Political Opportunist-in-Chief Specter promised yesterday:

"My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. ... For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change."

Surely we are justified in being skeptical. As recently as March 17, Specter told The Hill that he was considering running for re-election as an Independent, but would not join the Democratic Party.
"I think each of the 41 Republican senators, in a sense - and I don't want to overstate this - is a national asset," he said at the time, "because if one was gone, you'd only have 40, the Democrats would have 60, and they would control all of the mechanisms of government."
Tell me about it.

The measure is a top priority of the AFL-CIO and other labor unions, and the SEIU has highlighted Sen. Specter's previous support for the bill in an attempt to pressure him into reversing his reversal:

Perhaps Sen. Specter will not support the current version of EFCA. But the Wall Street Journal reports that top executives from Costco, Starbucks and Whole Foods are pitching an alternative proposal in hopes of reaching a compromise.

With Sen. Specter angling for new committee assignments and action on his top legislative priorities, don't be surprised if he's willing to sell out on past promises for the sake of political expediency.

After all, it certainly wouldn't be the first time.

See also: More reaction on Sen. Specter's switch

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