Archive for the ‘Arlen Specter’ Category

Card Check May Fail; Lawmakers Vote In Public View

March 10, 2009

Democrats on Tuesday introduced controversial labor legislation making it easier for workers to organize, formally kicking off the biggest lobbying fight between business and labor in decades.

The Hill

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), also known as card-check, was introduced with 223 co-sponsors in the House and 40 in the Senate. That is less support than it attracted in the last Congress, even though Democrats now hold more seats in both chambers. In 2007, EFCA had 230 co-sponsors on its day of introduction in the House and 46 in the Senate.

“The labor movement is not part of the problem. It is a big part of the solution,” Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) said in introducing the bill. He said Democrats were trying to make sure organized labor would be a part of turning the economy around.


Republicans pounced, arguing the bill is a gift to labor unions that campaigned for Democrats last fall and helped them win the presidency, a larger House majority and a 58-seat majority in the Senate that improves the chances of moving labor legislation.  

“The card-check bill is not about the economy, and it is not about restoring the middle class. Card-check is all about giving a gift to labor bosses at the expense of both the economy and the middle class,” said Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).

Miller and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) indicated Democrats are likely to start the bill in the Senate, where it faces a tougher path to President Obama’s desk.

Last Congress, the bill passed the House easily but stalled in the Senate, gaining only 51 votes for cloture, with Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) the only Republican to join Democrats in support of the procedural move.

Democrats now hold 58 seats in the Senate, but it is unclear whether some centrist Democrats will support the legislation this year, when a vote for cloture would likely mean it would become law.

Last year, business opponents could count on President Bush to veto the bill. This year, President Obama has indicated he’ll sign it.

Union officials are confident they’ll have the 60 votes necessary to move the bill out of the Senate. But that has been disputed by lawmakers, with Harkin and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) both saying the legislation doesn’t have the votes for now.

“By the time we bring it up, we will have 60 votes,” Harkin said at Tuesday’s press conference.

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Spineless Democrats, a Senate specialty

At least six Senators who have voted to move forward with the so-called card-check proposal, including one Republican, now say they are opposed or not sure — an indication that Senate Democratic leaders are short of the 60 votes they need for approval…

The legislation is divisive and distracting, said Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln in an interview Monday. The Democratic lawmaker, who was previously seen as a supporter, said the Senate should focus on creating jobs and improving the U.S. economy. “I have 90,000 Arkansans who need a job, that’s my No. 1 priority,” she said. The legislation, she said, would be “divisive and we don’t need that right now.”



Stimulus: Calls To Senate 8:1 Against; Political, Economic Toll Looms

February 9, 2009

Barack Obama is in trouble.  His first legislative initiative as president was meant to solve a catastrophe.  But the phone lines at the Senate House Office Buildings are heating up with voters saying “no.”

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said on Monday the calls to his office were 8:1 against the stimulus.  Other Senate offices report similar call ratios.

Polls show that 50% or more of the voters are against this stimulus.

The stimulus will probably still pass.  After all, Democrats control the House and the Senate.  But their will be consequences of the stimulus: political and economic.

Barack Obama is bleeding politically.  He’ll need some recovery time.

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) has been willing to go with the Democrats on the stimulus.  He faces reelection in his state during the next go round; and his Republican base is not overjoyed with this stimulus.

Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, both Republicans, have also sided with the Democratic Party on the stimulus.  They probably have to help the Democrats (or think they have to)  given the unemployment in their state.

But this stimulus is going to hurt the nation, politically and economically.  And few Demcrats or White House spokesmen have been able to articulate the benefits enough to turn around the negative feelings among voters….

U.S. Taxpayers Risk $9.7 Trillion on Bailouts as Senate Votes

Stimulus: Obama house parties can’t stimulate needed support

Stimulus will lead to ‘disaster,’ Republican warns

Arlen Specter
Senator Specter


Jonathan Martin, Manu Raju 

In the gauzy days of bipartisan good feeling before his Inauguration, there was talk of President Barack Obama linking arms with Republicans to pass a massive stimulus bill, with a big bipartisan Senate majority as proof the parties could come together in a time of national distress. 

So much for that. 

Now Obama and the Democrats are poised to push through an $827 billion package Tuesday with as few as three Republican votes in the Senate, after notching zero on the House side. 

The risks for Obama are considerable. He and the Democrats will have no one else to blame if the package fails to boost the economy. Obama himself has said his first term can be judged on whether it succeeds, whether it creates or saves the 3 million to 4 million jobs he promises. 

And if the economy fails to show marked signs of improvement — a possibility indeed — Republicans will have a megabillion-dollar “I told you so” in their pockets, just in time for the 2010 midterm elections and Obama’s own reelection bid in 2012. 

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the fallout from a Democrat-only bill will be “squarely in the president and the Democratic leadership’s lap.” 

If Obama signs a stimulus bill that has been approved on a party-line vote, “which I have no confidence will work, then I think this is very serious blow early on to his presidency,” Cornyn said. 

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) acknowledged the lack of bipartisan support “weakens the bill” and said voters should try to withhold judgment until a final product emerges from conference. But he warned that the GOP would suffer from withholding support. 

Yet Republicans are gambling themselves — and perhaps with even higher stakes. 

Still seeking a way forward from their Election Day thumping, they risk appearing out of touch as the unemployment rate jumps to 7.6 percent and a popular new president is appearing to seek their support to address the crisis. By turning their backs on him and opposing action at a time when millions of Americans are in need, they may invite a “party of no” bull’s-eye on their backs. 

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Stimulus: Republicans Block Dems Offering to Spend More Money

February 3, 2009

Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked Democrats from adding $25 billion for highways, mass transit, and water projects to President Barack Obama‘s economic recovery program.

Already unhappy over the size of the measure, Republicans insisted additional infrastructure projects be paid for with cuts elsewhere in the bill.

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer

But the Democratic amendment garnered 58 votes, just shy of the supermajority needed under Senate budget rules, and many more efforts to increase the measure’s size are sure to follow.

“We can’t add to the size of this bill,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. “The amount is just inconceivable to most people.”

At issue was a plan by Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to increase the highway funding in the bill to $40 billion, which reflected complaints from lawmakers in both parties that Obama’s plan doesn’t do enough to relieve a backlog of unfinished projects. The duo also wanted to increase mass transit programs by $5 billion boost and water projects by $7 billion.

“Our highways are jammed. People go to work in gridlock,” Feinstein said Tuesday.

Just two Republicans supported the move, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Christopher Bond of Missouri. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Judd Gregg, R-N.H., named Tuesday morning to become Commerce secretary, did not vote.

Senate debate unfolded as Obama issued another call for swift action on the measure, urging lawmakers to act “with the same sense of urgency Americans feel every day.”

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Stimulus: Some Loony Spending Requests in Obama Plan