By a vote of 75-20, the Senate has given final passage to a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that would make it tougher for transportation workers to unionize. Under the bill, the National Mediation Board -- the agency that manages labor issues for the railroad and airline industries -- would not be allowed to call for an union election unless at least 50 percent of the employees of a company sign authorization cards requesting an election.Read Full Article
No jobs bills on the calendar yet. But don't worry, they're going pivot soon. For now, Congress is sticking to pretty much what they've been doing all along. In the House they'll be treading water with suspensions bills, passing anti-union legislation that's going to die on the Senate. Stuff like that. In the Senate they'll start out by voting on a motion to overcome Republican opposition to a bill to apply sanctions to the military regime in Burma. That bill will probably pass unanimously, but the Republican minority is going to use the Senate rules to make sure it takes up as much of the Democratic majority's time as possible, because, you know, they don't want them to have time for other stuff that might be more popular, like job creation.Read Full Article
The August jobs report is out -- the first since the debt deal passed and the S&P downgraded the U.S. credit rating -- and the key number to the whole thing is zero. Zero jobs were created in August. The private sector produced a measly 17,000 jobs, but those gains were entirely erased by the 17,000 jobs that were lost in the public sector due to state and local government budget cuts. Hours worked were down, wages were down, and the unemployment rate for blacks jumped by nearly a full percentage point to 16.7% nationally. There's basically nothing good in the report to point to.
When Congress comes back next week, the focus is going to be on competing jobs bills from the Republican House and the Obama Administration. Unfortunately, it looks like none of them are going to pass. Both sides have decided that their best move is to try to use the gridlock to their advantage politically. They're not willing to do for the jobless what they did for the banks with TARP -- throw the political concerns aside and do what it takes to save them. But it's not just jobs bills that Congress will be fighting over when they come back. They also have some important authorization bills up for renewal that have so far been stymied over partisan battles on union-organizing rules and other issues. If they're not going to pass a job-creation measure they should at least find a way to pass these bills so they can prevent millions of of private and publica jobs from being lost.Read Full Article
The House kicks things off this week with a quick vote on extending three government surveillance powers from the PATRIOT Act. It's going to be done under a closed rule so it's expected to pass without any hiccups, though it's going to be interesting to see what kind of motion to recommit the Democrats go with on this. Once that's all set, the House will transition to budget land, with debate beginning on the Republicans' budget proposal for the rest of the year just one day after President Obama is scheduled to officially his preferred plan for next year. The 2011 budget was left unfinished by the Democrats last year and is being handled as a continuing resolution. A copy of the cuts Republicans are proposing can be downloaded here.
The Senate, meanwhile, will continues debating that left-over FAA Authorization bill that they've been on for two weeks already. Remember, this passed the Senate last year by a vote of 93-0. It's not a controversial bill, it's just taking forever because Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] has left it open to amendments as a test run of his gentlemen's agreement with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell [R, KY]. There's no way of knowing how long this "debate" will last.Read Full Article
A measure that would provide billions to fund the Federal Aviation Administration and modernize airport infrastructure is being held up over a provision that would allow FedEx workers to unionize as easily as UPS workers.Read Full Article