As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blue Dogs Punt Employee Free Choice To The Senate

Some may be inclined to see this as some sort of big sellout to labor, but honestly I don't. It's a reflection of political reality.

Blue Dog Democrats in the House have asked House Dem leaders to postpone a vote on the Employee Free Choice Act until after the Senate votes on it, and the Democratic leadership has agreed, a senior House Dem aide tells me.

The discussions are likely to disappoint some in the labor movement, who see Employee Free Choice as their top priority and had hoped the House would act quickly and pass a strong bill before the Senate passes a weaker version. Proponents and foes of the measure alike say the Senate is expected to be the major battleground over the bill because of the tight Dem majority.

Blue Dog Dems have told House leader Steny Hoyer that they don’t want a vote on Employee Free Choice before the Senate because they fear they’ll end up having to vote for two different versions of the measure, compounding the political damage they may face in moderate districts, the aide says.

I think Blue Dogs are wrong on the political calculations and that supporting workers is broadly popular, and things like the fact that higher rates of union membership lead to higher wages and a better economy shouldn't be hard to frame. But the Senate was always going to be where this did or did not get done anyway, thanks to the artificial veto of the filibuster. If the Senate has the votes, it would be better to know first before the House passes something and everybody gets their hopes up only to be dashed by the Axis of Centrism. If a vote like this truly hurts a Marion Berry (D-AR) he'll vote his conscience regardless of whether the House gets a crack first or second. If anything this puts pressure on the Senate, which is a good thing.

YMMV. Josh Orton's does.

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