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Specter a "No" on EFCA

March 24, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Breaking from CongressDaily ($):

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., will vote against a cloture motion to limit debate on the Employee Free Choice Act, business groups said today. Keith Smith, who directs labor policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, said his group expects Specter to announce his decision in a floor speech early this afternoon. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it also was expecting the announcement. Specter’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Specter’s opposition could doom the legislation because to pass the bill organized labor needs 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. That means keeping every single Democratic vote, securing a win for Democratic candidate Al Franken in the ongoing Minnesota Senate race and keeping Specter, who voted for cloture when the Senate considered the bill in 2007, on board.

We’ll see what Specter says on the floor, but I assume he’s saying he won’t vote to stop a Republican filibuster. The actual vote on the bill, if Democrats are able to break the filibuster, would only take 51 votes; it wouldn’t actually require any Republican support.

Quick Update: Yup, he’ll vote against cloture (via Greg Sargent):

This is big: Senator Arlen Specter has just confirmed that he’ll vote against cloture for the Employee Free Choice Act, his office confirms to me, potentially dealing a real blow to labor’s efforts to get the key 60 votes for the measure in the Senate.

Specter made the declaration on the floor of the Senate moments ago, his spokesperson confirms.

Update 2: I should note that Specter was the only Republican in the Senate who voted for the Employee Free Choice Act last year, and he was a co-sponsor of the bill in 2004. These facts give us reason to question Specter’s explanation today and imagine that it also had to do with the tough primary challenge he is facing in 2010 from Pat Toomey.

Update 3: Specter posts his full remarks today on EFCA.

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