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Category Archive for ‘EFCA’ at Campaign Diaries
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Archive for the 'EFCA' Category


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Plagued by Dem skepticism and Kennedy’s absence, card-check is thrown out of EFCA

Recent legislative activity surrounding cap-and-trade and health care reform made the Employee Free Choice Act fade away in the background, but negotiations were continuing in the background. Today, we learned that Democrats have thrown out of the legislation its highest-profile (and most controversial) provision: card-check.

This was a long time coming. Earlier this year, Arlen Specter and Blanche Lincoln, who had both voted in favor of cloture in 2007, clearly stated that they opposed card-checks; that made it extremely tough to envision how EFCA as it is currently written could gather 60 votes. As the White House looked unwilling to make too strong a push for labor reform in the midst of its other legislative priorities, moderate Democrats faced little pressure to fall in line and some sort of compromise looked unavoidable.

The good news for labor is that Democrats have not given up on passing binding arbitration, and that previously hostile Specter and Mark Pryor now look to support that provision. The bad news for labor is that odds for passage remain low as long as Teddy Kennedy and Robert Byrd avoid resigning.

The continued consequences of Kennedy and Byrd’s absences

I put together my most recent EFCA head count in April, showing that 12 Democratic Senators were uncommitted. That was a daunting enough number, but it also became obvious that, even if all 12 voted in favor of cloture, EFCA would still fall short because four Democrats looked like sure “no” votes: Lincoln, Specter, Kennedy and Byrd.

While the Democratic leadership could maybe have hoped to convince Specter to back card-checks because of Sestak’s primary threat and maybe compensated Lincoln’s defection by finding one Republican willing to cross-over, there is no way it could also have accounted for Kennedy and Byrd’s absences. (On cloture votes, an absent Senator is equivalent to a ‘no’-voting Senator.)

That’s right, Kennedy and Byrd’s refusal to resign despite the fact that they have not been in the Senate in months ended up being a bigger obstacle to EFCA than Ben Nelson’s conservatism or Michael Bennet’s efforts to dodge the issue. And this is not the first issue on which this is the case. It’s hard to imagine Dawn Johnsen’s confirmation held up in the Senate if Kennedy and Byrd had been around, and we’ll see what health care concessions Democrats are forced to grant to compensate for their absences.

The bottom-line: Every Senate vote counts when we’re talking about getting to 60 on polarizing legislation like health care reform. Kennedy has only cast one vote in more than a year, forcing Democrats to make more concessions to obtain an additional centrist or Republican vote. If he cares about progressive legislation, Kennedy should stop clinging to power and resign.

Binding arbitration remains, but can it pass?

The disappearance of card-check is a huge victory for the band of moderate Democrats who were holding up their support for the legislation. In addition to Lincoln and Specter, they were: Bayh, Baucus, Bennet, Bingaman, Conrad, Feinstein, Kohl, Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Pryor, Tester and Webb. But a big question remains: What’s the compromise version of EFCA that will now be considered, and will these Democrats support it?

Many labor advocates consider EFCA’s binding arbitration provision to be as important (if not more) as the better-known card-card part. So why had opposition crystallized around the latter? It’s all about framing: Business groups figured out that ad campaigns hitting Democrats for doing away with secret ballot elections would be effective and they fired up the base on that issue. That does not mean that these groups are not as opposed to binding arbitration than to card-check. In fact, most of EFCA’s critics, including Lincoln and Specter, have expressed just as strong opposition to the former provision.

There is little doubt that labor reform stripped of card-check and arbitration could pass the Senate, albeit that would be a fairly extraordinary victory for Republicans given that they only have 40 Senators. For now, reports indicate that the compromise proposed by the Senate does include binding arbitration, so today’s development is no crushing blow for unions. The question, then: Can a version of EFCA that contains arbitration provisions pass the Senate?

Since, EFCA’s opponents have mostly framed their cause as a battle to save the right to a secret ballot, it could prove tricky for them to pressure Senators now labor has agreed to drop card-check from its demands. Moderate Democrats can say that they helped defeat EFCA’s most controversial provision and have more cover to vote for this version. It will not be easy for the party’s leadership to bring all their other uncommitted Senators on board, but labor’s threats to withhold support could be enough to push most of them towards a more supportive stance.

We can already move two Senators in the support column: Arlen Specter and Mark Pryor presumably support the new version given that they were among the 6 Senators who had a hand in crafting the compromise (the others were Harkin, Carper, Brown and the ubiquitous Schumer). Lincoln is now the only clear Democratic hold-out. But while she has explicitly opposed binding arbitration, she later declared herself opened to compromise so this could be her cue to at least signal she will support cloture.

But the short answer is this: It’s hard to see how even this version of EFCA can pass if its proponents don’t get “yes” votes out of West Virginia and Massachusetts. Even if Specter, Lincoln and all other Democratic Senators are brought on board, it would still require 2 Republicans be brought on board to support a reform that is staunchly opposed by business groups. Lisa Murkowski has opened the door to supporting a compromise and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are also thought as potential cloture supporters, but they’ve also spoken against the binding arbitration provision.

Updated head count

As long as there is no sign Kennedy and Byrd can come to the Senate, this gets us to the following head count on the new version of EFCA (more details as to how I got to these numbers here and here):

  • 46 cloture supporters: including 40 co-sponsors, 4 who have said they support the bill, 2 who have signaled they’ll vote for cloture (M. Udall and Warner) and 2 who helped craft the latest compromise (Pryor and Specter)
  • 11 undecided/uncommitted: Bayh, Baucus, Bennet, Bingaman, Conrad, Feinstein, Kohl, Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Tester, Webb
  • 5 opponents who could potentially be brought over: Lincoln, Murkowski, Collins, Snowe, Voinovich
  • 38 effective cloture opponents, including 36 Republicans, Teddy Kennedy and Robert Byrd

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What to make of Specter’s decision?

“He accuses me of being a liberal, as though that’s some form of a dirty word,” said Arlen Specter of his conservative archnemesis Pat Toomey in 2004. He somehow managed to beat Toomey that year, but it was looking increasingly difficult to figure out how Specter could survive Toomey’s challenge in 2010.

Accordingly, Specter has taken the only decision that would leave him a shot at winning re-election and has left the GOP.

As such, the Senator’s decision should be interpreted first and foremost as one dictated by his electoral circumstances, and he acknowledged as much in his statement. “I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate,” he wrote. He also alluded to the hundreds of thousands of registered Republicans who left the party last year, making it that much more difficult for him to beat Toomey.

Similarly, Specter’s choice to run as a Democrat rather than as an independent is the one that makes the most sense for the Senator’s re-election bid. As I have explained before, an independent campaign would be difficult to pull off in a state like Pennsylvania - far more difficult than in Connecticut, where Joe Lieberman did so in 2006.  First, Pennsylvania’s voters are more partisan than in Connecticut. In the 2008 election, 31% of Connecticut voters identified themselves as independents versus 18% of Pennsylvania voters.

Second, Connecticut’s 2006 Senate race was essentially a two-man race. There was no credible Republican candidate, which made Joe Lieberman into the de facto GOP candidate: 70% of Republicans voted for Lieberman! The same situation would have been highly unlikely to take place in Pennsylvania’s Senate race; an independent Specter would have found himself in a 3-way race with no obvious reservoir of votes.

All of this gets us to the current situation: Arlen Specter, registered Republican since 1966 and GOP Senator since 1980, will now caucus with Democrats and he will run in next year’s Democratic primary. What could all of that mean?

60 Democrats

The most obvious consequence of Specter’s party switch is that, once Al Franken is seated, the Democratic caucus will have 60 votes. While the Pennsylvania Senator warned in his statement that he should not be considered an automatic 60th vote, there is little doubt that he will be more open to supporting the Democratic position than he was as a senior Republican Senator - not to mention one facing a top-tier primary campaign from a conservative challenger.

Here’s the bottom line: Harry Reid will now only need to keep his own caucus united rather than have to reach out to Republicans. That greatly improves the legislative odds of many Democratic priorities. “I’m a loyal Democrat, I support your agenda,” Specter told Obama this morning, according to an ABC News report.

Frankly, it’s hard to imagine Specter proving more reluctant to support the Democratic leadership than Senators like Ben Nelson or Evan Bayh are now or that Bruce Lunsford and Ronnie Musgrove would have been had they won last fall and provided Democrats a 60th seat.

On the other hand, Democrats should not start celebrating a filibuster-proof majority. The Senator might have been one of the most moderate Republicans of the Senate, but that did not make him a Lincoln Chaffee: There were obvious reasons Specter was in the GOP and it is difficult to predict how he will evolve now that he is in the Democratic caucus. Specter is a five-term Senator who has reached great heights of power and who is used to bucking his party; as he warned in his statement, he will not be a reliable vote for progressive priorities.

(In particular, Specter warned today that he still opposed to EFCA - a surprising declaration given that the Senator co-sponsored the legislation in 2007. We will have to see whether Specter just threw that sentence in his statement to defend himself against charges of opportunism. Given that Democrats still need some sort of compromise since Blanche Lincoln is also opposing EFCA, I find it hard to believe that Specter would not at least vote for cloture on whatever bill comes out of negotiations.)

As importantly: With Specter looking unlikely to make it to the general election, Democrats were already favored to pick-up the seat in 2010. They would have to live with only 59 votes until January 2011, but it was likely that they could then fill the Pennsylvania Senate seat with a Democratic Senator all the way until 2016.

Now, Specter is now favored to emerge as the Democratic nominee (as I explain below), which means that he is as liberal a Senator we can expect from the Keystone State next year. Pennsylvania is no Nebraska, Kentucky or Mississippi; Democrats could certainly have hoped for a more friendly Senator. In short: Specter’s decision is a boost to Democrats in the 111th Congress, but could be seen as a blow to progressives in the 112th, 113th and 114th Congress.

The Democratic primary

Specter will obviously have to beat back some sort of primary challenge, but he is should be considered the early favorite to prevail for a number of reasons:

1. The Democratic establishment is likely to support him: Arlen Specter did not just decide to switch parties this morning. Rumors of such a move have been in the air for months, and the Senator has undoubtedly had many talks with top Democrats - which reportedly included Vice President Biden - about the consequences of a switch. In other words, Specter would have been unlikely to pull the trigger had he not been given some assurance that he be supported by Democratic leaders, including the White House. Also, Democratic Governor Ed Rendell is a friend of Specter’s and is sure to back his primary campaign.

MSNBC confirms the existence of such an arrangement: “As part of the deal, the leadership of the Democratic party will fully support Arlen Specter, with both funding, message support and a promise to clear the primary field.” And in case there were any doubts, Barack Obama has already expressed his support. Someone has (probably innocently) leaked to the press that the President called Specter to say “you have my full support” and add that Democrats “are thrilled to have you.”

2. Will any Democrat be willing to challenge him? For much of the past few months, we have monitored the reluctance of top Democrats to take on the Pennsylvania Senator. Auditor Jack Wagner, Rep. Patrick Murphy, Allyson Schwarz and Joe Sestak were clearly unwilling to jump in the Senate race, even though there was a strong chance that Specter wouldn’t even make it to the general election. Now, any Democrat will be condemned to run an insurgent primary campaign against a longtime Senator most likely supported by President Obama and Governor Rendell. Needless to say, none of these Democrats are now likely to run, and I find it unlikely that current candidate Joe Torsella will stay in the race.

On the other hand: Specter’s vote over the next year will go a long way toward determining his electoral fate. In today’s statement, the Senator warned that he had not changed his mind on EFCA, but can that possibly be true? If the Senate holds a vote on card-check legislation, Specter’s vote will determine whether he faces labor-backed opposition: If he at least supports cloture, not only would he backed by Obama and Rendell but he would also be supported by organized labor. Needless to say, that could be all he needs to win the Democratic primary in a state like Pennsylvania.

The general election

If Specter wins the Democratic nomination, he would be heavily favored to win the general election. Pennsylvania might not be the most liberal of states, but it is Democratic. The GOP cannot win on the basis of the conservative-vote alone, and Specter is popular enough among independents to leave very little political space for the GOP. In fact, I would not be surprised if Toomey jumps out of the senatorial race and chooses to run for Governor instead.


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Monitoring EFCA’s pulse, continued

While I certainly dot not believe that the Employee Free Choice Act is in good legislative shape, I have spent some time arguing that reports of the legislation’s death are exaggerated. In what is arguably the most important metric EFCA watchers should follow,  we now have three Democrats who have explicitly said they could vote differently on cloture and on final passage - Mark Udall, Mark Warner and Ben Nelson.

More importantly, key Senators like Blanche Lincoln, Lisa Murkowski and nearly all of the wavering Democrats have indicated their willingness to support a watered-down version of the current bill. Last week, the Arkansas Senator insisted that she was only voicing her opposition to the “current version” of the bill. In a interview she just conducted with TalkBusiness.net, Lincoln confirmed that she could support some sort of compromise version:

If business and labor want to come together and find a compromise, and send that to the Congress and let us determine whether or not that’s something that’s going to be productive for this economy and productive for the country right now, that would be fine.

(Lincoln also explains that her 2007 vote in favor of cloture should not be interpreted as support for the legislation; she was only supporting “a procedural motion.” Note that Lincoln was one of the few Democrats not to co-sponsor the 2007 version of EFCA, which makes her explanation more credible. As to why she will now vote against cloture, Lincoln used the same argument as Specter: The country is in an economic crisis, and “these kinds of dire straits” are a bad time to pass legislation boosting labor.

You would think that a Democrat would believe in the basic progressive principle that unions help the working class and that offering relief to the working class, the most fragile when facing a crisis, is precisely what Dems should be doing right now. But the conservative Lincoln represents Arkansas, which is particularly hostile to labor.)

So we now have a long list of Democrats - and even some Republicans - who are critical of the bill’s current version but who are willing to support a “compromise.” They are thus two questions to be answered:

  1. What, if anything, would EFCA’s opponents be willing to support?
  2. Will labor be willing to sacrifice important provisions of the bill given the prospect of an increased Democratic majority in 2010?

What compromise?

First then: What would a compromise look like? Which of EFCA’s provisions would people like Lincoln, Murkowski and Nelson be willing to support (at least in the cloture vote)? Two important guidelines:

  1. It now seems clear that the current Senate would not pass a bill that included card-checks. When Senators like Lincoln and Murkowski say they will not be supporting the bill’s “current version,” this is what they are referring to.
  2. It also seems probable that the current Senate would pass EFCA if it was stripped of its two most important provisions - card-checks and binding arbitration. (This is essentially what was proposed last month by Costco, Starbucks, and Whole Foods). Sure, the GOP would still raise hell over a bill that would toughen penalties on companies found to violate labor law and that would seek to guarantee organizers equal access to employees, but even Arlen Specter and George Voinovich have hinted that they would be willing to support such legislation.

There are many intermediary steps between the “current” version and the Costco-Starbucks-Whole Foods trifecta’s watered-down proposal, but the most important question seems to be whether wavering Senators like Lincoln would back mandatory arbitration - a provision many say is as (if not more) consequential than card-checks. On the one hand, Senators like Specter and Voinovich have explicitly ruled out supporting mandatory arbitration - and Democrats would still need that get that extra-GOP vote somewhere.

On the other hand, EFCA’s opponents have framed their cause as a battle to save the right to a secret ballot and have spent little time addressing the arbitration issue - and that means they would find themselves in an awkward position if labor suddenly agreed to drop card-check from its demands.

It looks like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has noticed that it should start spending more time opposing the arbitration provision. The pro-business group has just launched a major advertising campaign in Virginia, Nebraska, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Colorado aimed at convincing Sens. Nelson, Landrieu, Conrad, Webb, and Bennet to oppose EFCA. (The Chamber of Commerce first said they would spend $1 million on the campaign, but The Plum Line reports that they look to be only spending a quarter of that sum.)

As usual, the ad attacks card-checks - accusing EFCA of “stripping away” the secret ballot. But it goes on to attack the mandatory arbitration provision as well, denouncing the idea that “a bureaucrat from Washington” might have a say in the way private companies deal with their business. Here is the version of the ad that is airing in Virginia:

The ad confirms that it will be more difficult for the Chamber to argue against arbitration than against card-checks. The most presentable argument EFCA’s opponents have against arbitration is that businesses can self-regulate, that government should stay out of private enterprise and that companies would never try to exploit the lack of an ironclad deadline by delaying negotiations indefinitely. That might have been an effective argument in the 1990s or a few years ago. But in the current economic crisis, governmental intervention has gained popularity and I doubt many Americans trust that companies will be good at regulating themselves.

Should labor allies wait until 2011?

This gets us to the second question: Will labor and its congressional allies think a watered-down version is worth passing when Democrats have a good chance at increasing their Senate majority in 2010? I would argue that EFCA’s proponents have just as important a decision to take as those who are wavering.

After all, labor allies cannot be sure that the Democratic leadership will be willing to take up this heated issue again in two years if they pass some sort of legislation this year. If passing some sort of pro-labor legislation today requires sacrificing card-checks and binding arbitration, is it worth the price? What about if labor obtains some satisfaction on the arbitration issue and none on card-checks? Should they then wait for 2011, or press ahead today?


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Updated head count on EFCA: Udall and Warner will vote for cloture, Bennet bashes measure

With Blanche Lincoln and Arlen Specter’s defections on the Employee Free Choice Act, all the momentum seems to be going against labor’s top legislative priority. But two previously uncommitted Senators gave proponents of the bill some reason to cheer: Mark Udall and Mark Warner have announced that they will vote in favor of cloture.

Interestingly, both insisted that they had not decided how they will vote on the bill itself. As I have explained before, Senators often have it both ways by voting in favor of cloture (which requires 60 votes) and against its passage (which only requires 50). When it comes to EFCA, what is important is how Senators will vote on cloture and whether they will allow the bill to move to the floor for debate.

As far as EFCA’s proponents are concerned, Udall and Warner are now on their side since they will support cloture. They can now express their reluctance to support card-checks, they can reveal that they are leaning towards a “no” vote on the final legislation: All of that is posturing since they have said they will not support a filibuster.

The way in which these Senators announced their position confirms that their goal is to make their support for cloture seem as unimportant as possible. Udall’s announcement came last week, in a meeting with the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry. “On Wednesday, Udall told the group that he will vote to bring the bill to debate but, depending on what amendments are introduced, may or may not vote to pass it,” wrote the Denver Business Journal.

The article describes Udall as still not having “taken a stance,” which goes to prove that people rarely interpret someone’s position on cloture as the true “stance.” As for Warner, he wrote a letter to constituents (via The Plum Line):

I believe there is a need for reform in this area, and that EFCA should be debated and voted upon by the Senate. I intend to evaluate any prevailing proposal to ensure that it allows workers and employers to be adequately informed and that it ultimately provides a fair and level playing field for both management and labor.

Needless to say, a distracted reader would never notice that such a vaguely worded letter is announcing Warner’s intention. But Warner is in essence saying that he will vote against a filibuster by writing that he believes “EFCA should be debated and voted upon by the Senate.”

(Note, only one other Senator, Ben Nelson, had explicitly separated cloture and passage until now. But his position is a bit different: He is opposed to the bill, but unsure on whether he will support cloture.)

On the other hand, EFCA’s opponents also got some good news this week. Colorado’s other Democratic Senator Michael Bennet, who was recently appointed to the chamber and is uncommitted on the bill, had some harsh words for the bill:

We’re going to have to see whether or not there’s a consensus that can be reached that makes it something that can be passed because right now there isn’t something that can be passed… Temperatures are running high on both sides of this. We need to make sure that no matter how this turns out … that we’ve got all hands on deck working on health-care reform because this is the year to get that done.

The first part of Bennet’s statement (”right now there isn’t something that can be passed”) might make headlines, but it is not particularly newsworthy: With Lincoln and Specter opposed to the bill, we know that the current version can get at most 58 votes on the cloture motion. But the second part certainly does not suggest that Bennet is leaning towards supporting the bill, as he describes EFCA as a divisive measure that could imperil the Democratic coalition and threaten the passage of health care reform.

Now that Specter, Lincoln, Warner and Udall have clarified their intentions, I have updated the head count I wrote nearly a month ago. That post also contained a table detailing each uncommitted Senator’s position, so I refer you there for a more detailed take on Bingaman, Conrad or Kohl’s stance.

While some Senators who are co-sponsoring EFCA have expressed some concern about its provisions - Tim Johnson, for instance, recently said that he would be more comfortable with a watered-down bill - none has pulled back their co-sponsorship. That certainly implies that the leadership can at the very least count on all of their support during the cloture vote. That gets us to the following breakdown:

  • 46 supporters
    • 40 co-sponsors
    • 4 non co-sponsors who have indicated their support for the bill: Dorgan, Franken, Hagan, McCaskill (see here for more detail)
    • 2 non co-sponsors who have indicated that their support for cloture: Mark Udall, Warner
  • 12 undecided/uncommitted: Bayh, Baucus, Bennet, Bingaman, Conrad, Feinstein, Kohl, Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Pryor, Tester, Webb
  • 5 oppose the current version but have not closed the door to compromise:
    • 2 have explicitly opened door: Lincoln, Murkowski
    • 3 have not explicitly said they might support compromise but observers believe they could support cloture on watered-down version: Collins, Snowe, Voinovich [Important update on Voinovich, see below]
  • 36 opponents, which include Arlen Specter

As you can, the first two categories only add up to 58. That means that, as soon as Arlen Specter announced his opposition to EFCA, the bill’s current version was all but dead. Blanche Lincoln’s defection lowered the potential support for the current bill from 59 to 58. Now, Democrats need to water down the bill enough to get the support on cloture of 2 of the following 5 Senators who currently oppose the bill: Murkowski, Lincoln, Collins, Snowe and Voinovich.

Update: I had apparently missed an op-ed Voinovich wrote in Politico last week in which he announces his opposition to both the card check and binding arbitration provisions of EFCA. Voinovich concludes, “As a result of my fundamental concerns with this legislation, I will not support it when it comes to the Senate floor.” The wording does not fully close the door to cloture vote (Specter explicitly addressed cloture and said he would vote against it), it does make it very unlikely that Voinovich will allow for debate on compromise version - unless the bill is so watered-down that it removes card checks and binding arbitration, in which case Specter would be likely to vote “yea” as well.


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A week after sponsoring estate tax relief, Lincoln announces opposition to EFCA “in its current form”

A number of Senators are engaged in a hard-fought race to emerge as the chamber’s most conservative Democrat. In the running are such Senators as Mary Landrieu and Bill Nelson, perhaps even Mark Warner, Max Baucus and Michael Bennet. But the race looks to be coming down to three Democrats: Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh and Blanche Lincoln.

Over the past month, Bayh and Nelson took a clear lead by becoming the public face of the newly formed “centrist” caucus and by casting the only two Democratic votes against Barack Obama’s budget. (This was no minor vote: This ambitious budget is meant to serve as the base of the political reorientation of the Obama era - a direct response to Ronald Reagan’s 1981 budget. For Nelson and Bayh to vote against the budget puts them at odds with the basic principles of Democratic governance.) Undoubtedly feeling left out, Lincoln has been compensating her support for the budget by working overtime on other issues.

Lincoln deals blow to EFCA, but we shouldn’t read that much into it

Yesterday, the Arkansas Senator took a stance against the Employee Free Choice Act, labor’s top legislative priority. Lincoln had voted in favor of the bill’s 2007 version, but she had been signaling her reluctance to support the current bill for months. She took a step further yesterday. “I cannot support that bill,” Lincoln said at a meeting at the Little Rock Political Animals Club. “Cannot support that bill in its current form. Cannot support and will not support moving it forward in its current form.”

Coming just a week after Arlen Specter announced his opposition to the bill, her announcement was a heavy blow to EFCA. Democrats need to present a unified front to have any hope of reaching 60 votes - and an actual defection by Lincoln would make it all but impossible for them to achieve it.

What is particularly damaging to EFCA is that Lincoln is explicitly closing the door to having it both ways: Voting in favor of cloture, against the bill legislation. Nebraska’s Ben Nelson has explicitly said he might do just that, and, as I explained last month, the true measure of a Senator’s opposition is whether they explicitly close the door to voting differently on the cloture vote and the passage vote. Specter said he would not last week, and Lincoln joined him yesterday when she said she will not support the bill “moving forward.” Later in the evening, she added that she will not support “efforts to bring it to Senate consideration in its current form.”

Yet, Lincoln made sure to qualify her opposition and repeat that she opposed the bill in its current form. And here is why that makes her announcement not terribly newsworthy: Arlen Specter’s opposition already all-but-guaranteed that the current version could not pass. To get 60 votes, Democrats need to convince Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski or George Voinovich to support the bill - and that will take compromise.

Simply put, that Lincoln opposes the bill in its current form matters little since Specter all but killed “the current form.” What matters is whether she could support a watered-down version - perhaps one that would drop card-checks and keep binding arbitration. Yesterday the evening, Lincoln released a statement that clarified her earlier comments and left the door open to support “alternatives:”

While I may not have been clear about my position in the past, I am stating today that I cannot support Employee Free Choice Act in its current form and I can’t support efforts to bring it to Senate consideration in its current form. I will consider alternatives that have the support of both business and labor but my pledge today is to focus my full attention on the priorities I have mentioned that affect every working family in Arkansas.

EFCA’s defenders already knew that they needed to find “alternatives” to get 60 votes. And no one had any doubt that Lincoln would one of those Senators who would try to water down the legislation. For her to now come out against the bill’s “current version” thus doesn’t change much about the current situation.

Cutting the estate tax

Just a week ago, Lincoln made headlines when she teamed up with Arizona’s John Kyl, a Republican, to propose a bill that would lower the tax rate on estates over $7 million from 45% to 35%. The measure, which would affect less than 0.3% of households, would cost the government a massive $250 billion over 10 years.

Ever since the Administration announced its budget plans, Lincoln had done much complaining about the budget as well. In particular, she had focused on the provision that would reduce the charitable deduction savings for wealthy taxpayers. Her explanation: Concern that it could lead to a drop in donations. But her decision to sponsor the estate tax reform suggests she is much more concerned with protecting the wealthiest than with ensuring non-profits stay afloat. Indeed, the estate tax bill’s critics warn that it would cause a drop in charitable donations by reducing the tax incentive. (The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has a detailed analysis of the legislation, for those who are more interested).

51 Senators voted to pass the bill and create a reserve fund for this estate tax relief, which means that 10 Democrats joined all Republicans to vote in favor: Lincoln, Baucus, Bayh, Cantwell, Landrieu, Murray, both Nelsons, Pryor and Tester. The usual suspects, except for Washington’s two typically liberal Senators (Murray and Cantwell) who must have a lot of wealthy constituents back home.

Particularly fascinating are the “yea” votes of Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh. To justify their vote against the budget, they portrayed themselves as fiscally disciplined. “Under this budget, our national debt skyrockets from $11.1 trillion today to an estimated $17 trillion in 2014,” Bayh said. “I cannot support such results. We can do better, and for the sake of our nation and our children’s future, we must.” But it makes little sense for the Indiana Senator to rant about the growing deficit of Obama’s budget when he is eager to support tax cuts for the wealthiest. I have trouble grasping how any Senator can portray himself as concerned about the growing debt to justify voting against health care funding - and then vote for the Kyl-Lincoln estate tax bill within days.

Preparing for 2010

Most misleading in how Bayh and Lincoln are justifying their rightward drift is their argument that these moves are needed for them to win re-election in 2010. Let’s take Bayh first: He is extremely popular in Indiana, there are no credible Republicans even mentioned as a potential challengers, and he has more than $10 million stocked up in the bank. He is one of the cycle’s safest Democrats.

As for Lincoln, a myth has developed that voting in favor of EFCA will somehow kill a Senator’s general election’s chances. Let’s be clear: A vote was already held on this bill in 2007. In 2008, Republicans did their best to use the issue - and they could use recorded votes, not just statements. They used it particularly ferociously against Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, Mark Udall in Colorado (both had co-sponsored the 2007 bill in their respective chambers), Al Franken in Minnesota and Jeff Merkley in Oregon. The issue got no traction.

To now claim that EFCA will doom Lincoln’s electoral prospects is not supported by any evidence. If anything, Arlen Specter stands much more to lose in the general election by opposing the bill than Lincoln does by supporting it.


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Specter announces opposition to EFCA

Few people expected Arlen Specter to show his hand so quickly, but the longtime Pennsylvania Senator delivered a speech on the Senate floor today to announce that he would vote against EFCA. “This is a particularly bad time to pass employee choice legislation,” he said. “I have made up my mind.”

The short take on this development:

  1. Policy: Specter was the only Republican who might have supported the legislation as it is currently drafted; his decision is thus a potentially fatal blow to Democratic hopes of passing the legislation with all its provisions, without watering it down. On the other hand, reports of EFCA’s death are somewhat exaggerated; sure, Specter’s announcement is a big setback, but other Republicans have kept the door open to supporting a compromise. Furthermore, Specter himself left the door open to supporting the bill in the future - perhaps as early as May 2010, when his primary headaches will be over.
  2. Election: While this is too little too late to endear him to conservatives, Specter’s move will save him from huge headaches in the GOP primary. On the other hand, it will cause him trouble in the general election, and he is now sure to be one of labor’s prime targets.

Now for the long take.

The missing 60th vote

Two weeks ago, I published a detailed head count of where individual Senators stood on EFCA. The situation was clear: Even if every single Democrat voted for cloture (a scenario that is far from certain, though certainly more likely than most realize), a 60th vote has to be found among Republicans - and business groups are so opposed to the legislation that finding a GOP Senator willing to cross the aisle was never going to be easy.

Arlen Specter was the obvious candidate to provide that 60th vote: Not only was the only Republican to vote in favor of cloture when EFCA came up for a vote in 2007, but he co-sponsored the bill! So today’s announcement is a dramatic reversal of Specter’s past stance - and that is why his decision is so important.

Particularly damaging to EFCA is that Specter firmly closed two of the doors that proponents were hoping could convince him (and other undecided Senators) to back the bill. For one, Specter made it clear that he would oppose the cloture vote and not just the vote for final passage. As I explained two weeks ago, that is a crucial distinction, as some conservative Democrats are expected to vote in favor of cloture (which is the only suspenseful vote) before voting against the bill’s passage to gain some political cover.

Second, Specter spoke against both of EFCA’s major reforms: card-checks and binding arbitration. “The issue which has emerged at the top of the list for me is the elimination of the secret ballot which is the cornerstone of how contests are decided in a democratic society,” he said, before immediately adding. “The bill’s requirement for compulsory arbitration if an agreement is not reached within 120 days may subject the employer to a deal he or she cannot live with. Such arbitration runs contrary to the basic tenet of the Wagner Act for collective bargaining which makes the employer liable only for a deal he or she agrees to.”

Some Democrats and labor advocates have been open to a compromise bill that would leave out card checks and keep binding arbitration, which many believe is the EFCA’s most important provision. Such an arrangement would put conservatives in a corner, since they have framed their battle against the bill as a battle for secret ballot elections. Yet, Specter’s decision to denounce binding arbitration closes the door to his supporting such a compromise.

Having lost their one Republican ally, EFCA’s proponents will now have to find the 60th vote on cloture elsewhere while making sure to keep all 58 Democrats (plus Al Franken, once he is seated) in toe. Lisa Murkowski, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and George Voinovich all voted against EFCA in 2007, but all eyes will now turn towards them.

None of these Senators is expected to vote for the bill as it is currently drafted - Specter was the only Republican who might have done that - which is why I wrote that this development is a potentially fatal blow to EFCA’s strongest version. Yet, these four Republicans might be convinced to vote in favor of the bill (at least for cloture) if some compromise is found, which is why reports of EFCA’s death are exaggerated.

In particular, Murkowski clearly opened the door to the possibility of compromise support last month. The question now become what compromise she would be comfortable with, and could she be in favor of the binding arbitration provisions. (The last reason not to bury EFCA or water it down too much yet is that Specter opportunistically left the door open to changing his mind if economic conditions change; such a moment would likely not occur before next spring’s Republican primary. I talk about this more below.)

Alternatively, is it worth for labor and Democrats to delay EFCA until the 112th Congress, hoping that Democrats will finally cross the bar of 60 seats after the 2010 midterms and thus not need to water down the legislation?

Survive the primary, but suffer in the general election

In his speech, Specter made sure to portray his decision as a highly significant one. “It appears that 59 Democrats will vote to proceed with 40 Republicans in opposition. The decisive vote will be mine,” he said. As I explained above, Specter might not be as important as he gives himself credit for since other Republican Senators have left the door open to supporting some compromise.

Yet, his desire to dramatize his speech is not surprising: Next year, the Pennsylvania Senator will probably have to face a primary challenge from the right from former Rep. Pat Toomey, and a vote in favor of EFCA would have seriously jeopardized whatever chances Specter has left of surviving that showdown.

By announcing that he will vote against EFCA and doing so early, Specter should get some conservative praise - and that will be particularly welcome for him given all the blame he has gotten for voting in favor of the stimulus bill. On the other hand, Specter has gone too far to the center for his opposition to EFCA to do much to save him. Think of his announcement less as a way to score political points than as a way to avoid bigger problems.

Make no mistake about it, Specter’s critics are undeterred by his latest move. In a harsh statement, Toomey blasted the Senator’s opportunism:

The difference between Specter’s vote on the big government stimulus bill and Specter’s vote on card check: a threat in the Republican primary. It’s nice to see Sen. Specter reverse his position in a positive direction on card check, but I wish it didn’t take primary opposition to get him to do it.

The problem for Specter is that his decision will create huge complications in the general election, if he makes it that far. The Senator has long benefited from some support from Democratic-voting voters, and labor groups had signaled that they would have helped him win re-election had he supported EFCA. Now, unions will turn their wrath against the Republican Senator (the AFL-CIO president called his speech a “rebuke to working people”); Pennsylvania is a labor-heavy state, and Specter could face more opposition from unions than he has ever before once he is left to face a Democrat.

Opening the door for a future (re)reversal

Curiously, Specter decided not to go all the way in his opposition to EFCA, and he left the door open to a future flip-flop on his flip-flop:

The problems of the recession make this a particularly bad time to enact Employees Free Choice legislation. Employers understandably complain that adding a burden would result in further job losses. If efforts are unsuccessful to give Labor sufficient bargaining power through amendments to the NLRA, then I would be willing to reconsider Employees’ Free Choice legislation when the economy returns to normalcy.

On the merits, Specter’s argument is flawed. For one, the financial crisis makes it a particularly important time to pass EFCA as workers are hit particularly hard by the deteriorating economy and unions have an even harder time getting organized and thus protecting workers under such circumstances. Furthermore, the economic crisis provides a sense of urgency to reform the system - a sense that will disappear when economic indicators start improving.

Politically, what could Specter possibly be trying to accomplish by saying that he might be “willing to reconsider?” That will certainly get unions to not criticize him (this is their first legislative priority, and labor is already infuriated by Specter’s speech), and it will only give his conservative critics proof that the Senator should not be trusted to remain constant on anything. Toomey jumped on that opening in the statement he released reacting to Specter’s announcement:

When Senator Specter does a flip flop, it’s worth checking the fine print. On the Senate floor today he said: ‘I would be willing to reconsider Employees’ Free Choice legislation when the economy returns to normalcy.’ In other words, if he thinks his political fortunes have improved, he will deny workers a secret ballot after all.

This controversy raises an interesting question: Is the Senator saying that he would be willing to vote in favor of EFCA in the summer of 2010? That’s in little more than a year, and still in this Congress. Think about it: Enough time will have passed that the economy could be improving, and the Republican primary will have been resolved. If Toomey won, Specter no longer has anything to lose; if Specter moved on to the general election, he would have every reason to reverse himself and win for EFCA.


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EFCA: Counting the votes

While it is not expected to be brought to a vote just yet, the Employee Free Choice Act was introduced in both chambers of Congress this week. 220 House members - more than enough to ensure passage - have already co-sponsored the measure, so everyone’s attention is turned to the Senate, where the fate of one of the year’s most consequential piece of legislation will be decided in the months ahead.

Over the past few weeks, conservatives have sounded upbeat about their chances of stopping the reform, and a number of Democrats have pulled back their past support. So what is the current situation, and do EFCA’s opponents really have the momentum? Yesterday, I delved into the Democratic caucus’s ideological fault lines and how they are influencing the EFCA debate; today, it is time to look at at where individual members fall on the bill and at the chances of passages.

I have put together a detailed head count, going through each individual Senator, especially the 23 who are not co-sponsors and whose vote will be decisive. I broke down their recent statements and past positions, and organized them in a table available below. A number of Senators have not taken an official stance yet, and phone calls to their offices yielded differing results. Kay Hagan’s office told me that she supported EFCA, other offices responded that their Senators were taking their time, others said that they were concerned with some aspects of the bill.

Here is the overall head count I have come to:

  • 40 co-sponsors
  • 4 Senators are not co-sponsors but look to be supporting the bill (Al Franken is included since the bill will not be brought to a vote before Franken is seated)
  • 16 Senators are undecided (this includes Ben Nelson, who says he is leaning against the bill but is explicitly more open to voting in favor of cloture, a key distinction I explain below)

There has undoubtedly been a drop in support over the past two years. The bill’s 2007 version had 47 co-sponsors and all Democrats voted in favor of cloture; now, Democrats have 7 more Senators but EFCA only has 40 co-sponsors. This evolution is not surprising: Business groups are much more active against the bill now than they were two years ago, when they knew the bill would not pass the Senate and that Bush would veto it even if it did.

Contrary to what some articles are suggesting, this drop in support does not necessarily mean that the bill is in trouble. There are two reasons to this:

  1. A number of Senators might be unwilling to associate themselves so closely with a top labor priority, which means they are delaying the announcement of their stance. Yet, EFCA is the most important priority of one of the party’s biggest constituencies. For a Democrat to vote against the bill would be one of the biggest breaks from the party they could undertake, and only a handful of those who are currently undecided will remain so by the time the debate ends. Does anyone expect Senators Kohl or Feinstein to sabotage EFCA? Sure, they might insist for the bill to be moderated and watered-down, but they are unlikely to threaten the bill’s meatiest substance.
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  2. This reason could not be more important, but some people seem to be forgetting it: The cloture vote (which requires 60 votes) and the vote on the final legislation (which requires 50 votes) are two completely separate things, and they should be treated separately. Harry Reid can afford to let a number of Senators vote oppose the legislation; all he needs of his Senators is to vote for the cloture vote. And while some will certainly be tempted to oppose the legislation, it will be a whole other level of betrayal to join Republicans on the cloture vote.

It might seem silly to expect Senators to split their vote between the cloture and the final vote, but this is common practice used by Senators who want to have it both ways on tough votes. The cloture vote is the only one unions will remember, but the final vote is the only one the broader public will likely notice. Take Alito’s nomination to the SCOTUS, for instance: Joe Lieberman voted “yes” on cloture and then “no” on the final vote. And Democrats might not be the only one to attempt a similar switcheroo on EFCA: Might such a maneuver not solve some of Arlen Specter’s problems?

It is exactly such behavior that Harry Reid described recently in expressing his confidence that the bill would pass. “We, of course, are looking for 60 votes. I think, frankly, they’re there,” he said. “Now remember: these are procedural votes. These aren’t votes on the substance of the bill. I think getting 60 votes on the procedural aspects of it is certainly there.”

For now, only Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson has admitted that he is thinking about the two votes separately, as he has hinted he now opposes the legislation but professed himself far more open to voting in favor of cloture (see his quotes in the table below). And this is something we will have to observe closely in the weeks ahead: The question is not whether 60 Senators are willing to back the legislation, but whether 60 Senators are willing to let said vote to occur.

There is much more we could say, but for now, let’s now go on to the individual head count. Needless to say, this is an evolving situation, and Senators are refining their position on a daily basis - so what is true today might not be true tomorrow.

The bill has 40 co-sponsors, all of whom are naturally expected to support the bill:

Daniel Akaka; Mark Begich; Barbara Boxer; Sherrod Brown; Roland Burris; Robert Byrd; Maria Cantwell; Benjamin Cardin; Thomas Carper; Robert Casey; Christopher Dodd; Dick Durbin; Russ Feingold; Kirsten Gillibrand; Tom Harkin; Daniel Inouye; Tim Johnson; Edward Kaufman; Ted Kennedy; John Kerry; Amy Klobuchar; Frank Lautenberg; Patrick Leahy; Carl Levin; Joe Lieberman; Robert Menendez; Jeff Merkley; Barbara Mikulski; Patty Murray; Bill Nelson; Jack Reed; Harry Reid; John Rockefeller; Bernard Sanders; Charles Schumer; Jeanne Shaheen; Debbie Stabenow; Tom Udall; Sheldon Whitehouse; Ron Wyden.

(Note that some of these Democrats - for instance Carper and Bill Nelson - have said they would rather see the bill moderated. But their willingness to co-sponsor the bill as it is introduces certainly suggests that they will not cause much trouble for the bill’s passage.)

In addition, at least 4 Democrats who are not co-sponsors support EFCA seem close to supporting the bill - though their vote is obviously more up in the air than the 40 Senators listed above:

Senator Notes
Franken Once he gets his seat, he is not expected to waver on EFCA (see his campaign website).
Dorgan Dorgan said: “I’ve cosponsored and supported it in the past, and I expect to again.”
Hagan Her spokesperson told Politico that Hagan supports the bill; her office confirmed to me that she was “in support” though she had no current plan to co-sponsor it.
McCaskill She voted “yes” and co-sponsored 2007 version. During her recent appearance on ABC’s This Week, she expressed doubt that there were 60 votes in support of the bill and she would undoubtedly be interested in compromise negotiation, but she also showed no sign of backing off her past support for the bill. On the other hand, she is the most likely to create trouble for the leadership on this issue of the four Democrats in this category.

That leaves us with 15 Democrats and 5 Republicans whose vote could be decisive:

Senator 2007 version Notes
Vote Sponsor
Bayh Yes Yes He has yet to make statement on 2009 version.
Baucus Yes Yes He has yet to make statement on 2009 version; his office said he is still “considering” the legislation and has “some reservations” about the bill as it is currently written.
Bennet N/A N/A He has not announced stance on EFCA. Has clashed with unions in Colorado; business groups reportedly hopeful they can win him over.
Bingaman Yes Yes No recent public statement; his Senate office refused to clarify Bingaman’s position.
Collins No No She opposes the legislation, but some believe she could perhaps be won over through negotiation, particularly if the card-check provision of EFCA is dropped.
Conrad Yes Yes He is actively avoiding taking a stand this year.
Feinstein Yes Yes She has yet to announce stance on 2009 version; her Senate office told me she is “taking a serious look at it” and “seriously considering it.”
Kohl Yes Yes No recent public statement; his Senate office said Kohl has “not announced his position on the current bill yet.”
Landrieu Yes Yes Her spokesperson says that Landrieu will take time to “review” the bill.
Lincoln Yes No She has been publicly critical of the bill, calling it “divisive” and saying that, “I have 90,000 Arkansans who need a job, that’s my No. 1 priority.” That is not the same thing as opposing it, but it is certainly not a sign of comfort. “The question is, is there a need for this legislation right now? And for multiple reasons, I don’t think there is,” she said.
Murkowski No No Labor is hoping that the Alaska Republican could be open to voting for a compromise piece based on her comment that “as it is drafted now I’m not supportive.”
Nelson Yes No On March 10th, he voiced his opposition: “if what was put in is the same as it’s been described, I’m not in support of that.” He left door open to supporting the bill after “major effort” to change it. Very importantly, Nelson left an even bigger door open to supporting the cloture vote but not the legislation: “We’ll have to see whether there’s adequate debate. There are a lot of questions that remain about what the process is long before we have to make a decision about the cloture vote.”

In other words, and this is very important, Nelson is willing to separate the cloture vote from the vote on the legislation. And this is something he’d done before: Earlier this year, Nelson said he was likely to vote in favor of cloture but was “undecided” about the final vote.

Pryor Yes No He is now saying he will wait and see the outcome of negotiations. He recently said: “I’m just waiting for it to unfold in committee and see what it looks like when it hits the floor… When business groups contact me in Arkansas, I listen to them just as I do to unions. My sense is we can find common ground on this, but we’re not just there yet.”
Snowe No No She recently released statement opposing it, but some believe she could perhaps be won over through negotiation, particularly if the card-check provision of EFCA is dropped.
Specter Yes No He has not taken a stand this year. On March 10th, Specter declared: “I’m not going to be bound by party loyalty. My conscience tells me if it’s in the interest of the nation or the state.”
Tester Yes Yes He has yet to announce stance on 2009 version; when contacted, Senate office did not clarify position
M. Udall Yes Yes While campaigning for Senate, he pledged to support EFCA. Campaign website has very lengthy defense of the bill and of card-check provision. Udall also said:”I support the Employee Free Choice Act. It’s a way to ensure that in the workplace, employees have a say, so that we can honor the American tradition of collective bargaining and organizing in the workplace. I urge everybody to go out and make the case.”

Now, Udall is avoiding taking a stand, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, by Politico and by Politico again.

Voinovich No No Some proponents believe Voinovich might be willing to buck his party now that he has announced his retirement
Warner N/A N/A Failed to take a stance during 2008 campaign; now, business groups are reportedly hopeful they can win him over. He said he hopes for a “balanced reform.”
Webb Yes Yes He has pulled back his support. His office told me that he “agrees with President Obama that now is not a good time to bring up the legislation” and that he will be working to bring about a “bipartisan approach.” (Interestingly, the first staffer I talked to mistakenly told me that Webb was a co-sponsor and that he supported the bill.)

With this many Senators doing their best to keep their distance from a bill many will probably end up voting for, it is no wonder the head count looks so murky. Those to watch are undoubtedly Ben Nelson (whose attempts to split the issue of cloture and of the final vote are exactly what Harry Reid is looking for), Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor, Mark Warner and Arlen Specter.

Evan Bayh, Michael Bennet, and Mark Udall voting against the bill would be a surprise, but they are either too conservative (Bayh) or have too little of a track-record (Bennet, Bayh) for Democrats to take them for granted. To this list I would be tempted to add Claire McCaskill; she has not suggested she is pulling back her support, but her centrist leanings combined with her last minute switch on the omnibus bill make her a question mark on any liberal priority.

Of course, many Senators will be motivated by electoral considerations. Those who are up for re-election in a conservative state in 2010 might be less willing to take a strong stance in favor of EFCA, while the threat of a potential primary will weigh heavily on Specter’s mind. But a lot of this has little to do with elections: Mary Landrieu and Mark Udall were both willing to voice their support for EFCA last year, in the run-up to their election; now, they will not face voters before 2014 but they are withholding their support.

Update, in answer to commenters who are wondering why Democrats would bring up EFCA before Al Franken is seated: That will not happen, and no one expects Harry Reid to call a vote (or labor to call for a vote) until Franken is in the Senate. The bill might have been introduced this week, but it will likely take many months before a final vote is actually organized.

Update 2: I have added Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski to the list of those whose vote is up in the air.


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Omnibus, EFCA: Lines are drawn in the Democratic caucus

Recent fiscal debates have allowed us to get a sense of Democratic Senators’ positioning within their caucus. While all voted in favor of the stimulus bill, three Democrats chose to oppose the omnibus bill: Russ Feingold, Evan Bayh and Claire McCaskill. While Feingold was moved by his opposition to earmarks, Bayh and McCaskill justified their “no” vote based on their concern over excessive spending - an ideologically charged statement that puts them well on the right of their party’s spectrum.

Beyond the omnibus bill, Bayh and McCaskill have vocally positioned themselves to the right since the beginning of the 111th Congress, but they have taken very different routes. On the one hand, the Indiana Senator is doing his best to become the de facto leader of the Democrats’ conservative faction and has offered particularly harsh and public criticism of Obama’s plans, particularly on taxes. Bayh is also one of the organizers of the Senate’s newly-created centrist caucus.

Bayh is looking to get “pragmatist, moderate” Democrats to work with “like-minded” Republicans. Accordingly, Bayh is explicitly aiming fire at his party’s liberal faction. In a recent recent Fox News interview, Bayh warned of a “cataclysmic” collapse if Obama continue to implement their economic policies and dismissed some Democrats’ support as “resentment:”

Some of them like the just higher levels of spending for all the programs, the 8 percent across the board increase. They resented some of the lines that were drawn during the Bush years, and they want to make up for that in their minds, and I think some others would prefer maybe to not buck the leadership, that kind of thing, so you put all of that together, and that generates support for the bill, but again, Greta, the day of reckoning is coming. We can’t run deficits like this forever. The markets will react and punish us if we don’t…I am talking about something truly cataclysmic, our currency collapsing, interest rates skyrocketing because of our unsustainable deficits.

McCaskill, meanwhile, has taken a different route: She rarely offers harsh criticism of the President or live up publicly to her behind-the-scenes efforts to push legislation towards a more conservative direction, for instance during the stimulus debate. As for the omnibus bill, McCaskill had hinted that she would vote for the bill before casting a vote against it on the floor. (McCaskill also was one of four Democrats to vote in favor of the Enzi amendment on HIV/AIDS funding.) Asked by George Stephanopoulos why she had reversed herself on the overall bill, McCaskill tweeted back:

Ultimately just couldn’t do it. Not just earmrks tho, also increase in spendng(8%too much)& failure to reconcile $ with stimuls

In short: If Bayh is making himself one of the leading critics of Obama’s agenda, McCaskill is erecting herself as an obstacle to liberal objectives while trying to avoid drawing too much criticism.

And given that McCaskill looks to still be in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act, she is likely to avoid drawing much fire from liberal groups indeed. The lines are now being drawn on card-check, and a number of Democrats who have previously backed EFCA are now either undecided or publicly critical. The most prominent on-the-fence Senators are, in declining order of opposition/indecision: Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson (the only one who has gone as far as to state he would not vote for the bill in its current state), Mark Pryor, Michael Bennet, Bayh, Mark Warner and Mark Udall.

I will conduct a more specific vote-counting effort soon, but I will refrain from going further in legislative calculations in this post since it is devoted to the ideological lines within the Democratic caucus. In this respect, there are several interesting points to make on the above list. The first is Kay Hagan’s continued absence from such lists. Other newly-elected Senators, on the other hand, confirm their moderate-to-conservative reputations, especially Warner and Bennet.

More surprising is Mark Udall’s refusal to state his support of EFCA; not only did Colorado decisively vote for Obama, but Udall is not up for re-election until 2014. On the other hand, this is not the first sign we have gotten that Udall is a centrist on some issues - and he certainly looks less liberal than his cousin Tom, New Mexico’s new Senator. (One vote on which the two cousins parted ways while they were both in the House, for instance, was last summer’s FISA bill.)

Finally, Mary Landrieu’s stance as a leading Democratic hold-out is surprising because she was a co-sponsor of EFCA when it was introduced in the previous Congress - and that was just a year before Landrieu was up for re-election in a very tough race against state Treasurer John Kennedy, who opposed card checks. Now, Landrieu is not up for re-election until 2014, so her partial reversal cannot be due to electoral reasons but to ideological ones. This is certainly not surprising, as Landrieu has done her best to position herself as a leading figure of her party’s right wing, along with Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh.


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As Luksik joins Pennsylvania Senate fun, could unions rush to Specter’s rescue?

The Pennsylvania Senate race has taken a number of turns over the past few weeks. Today, conservative activist Peg Luksik made the situation even more confusing by announcing that she would challenge Senator Arlen Specter in next year’s Republican primary.

Luksik’s candidacy should not be underestimated. In 1990, she lost what many saw as a quixotic gubernatorial campaign against the establishment’s preferred candidate, pro-choice Barbara Hafer; to everyone’s surprise, Luksik received 46%. In 1994 and in 1998, Luksik was the Constitution Party’s general election nominee in gubernatorial races; she broke the 10% mark in both races. And last year, Luksik managed the campaign of grassroots-favorite William Russell, who was running against Rep. John Murtha.

Luksik evidently enjoys a strong connection to Pennsylvania’s conservative voters, and she has repeatedly demonstrated her ability to translate that appeal into raw votes. In short: Luksik could receive a substantial share of the vote in next year’s primary.

Whether her entry in the race is good or bad news for Arlen Specter is still unclear, and we will not know the answer until Pat Toomey finalizes his decision. (Last week, some papers reported that the former representative had made up his mind to run, but Toomey’s interview with Newsmax suggested that he was still undecided.)

If Toomey does not run, Luksik’s history should be enough for Specter not to take her challenge lightly. Pennsylvania’s Republican voters are angry, they are increasingly looking convinced that keeping the Senate seat in GOP hands does not matter if Specter is the one representing them, and Luksik could be a perfect outlet for her anger. Sure, she would face a much tougher road than Toomey would and she would not benefit from as much establishment support; but an upset would not be out of the question.

If Toomey does run, Luksik’s candidacy could be the one lifeline in Specter’s horizon. The two conservatives could split the anti-Specter vote and allow the Senator to survive with a narrow plurality (after all, how low can a five-term incumbent possibly sink?). This threat is aggravated  by the fact that the two could appeal to different constituencies: As the president of Club for Growth, Toomey is most comfortable discussing economic matters and he would hammer Specter for betraying fiscal conservatism; as an anti-abortion activist, Luksik could be strongest among social conservative voters.

As Specter’s potential opponents are trying to organize the opposition, the Senator has a few decisions of his own to make - and none could be more important than his vote on EFCA. From a legislative point of view, the bill - which was introduced today in both chambers of Congress - is sure to face close roll calls in the Senate, and Specter’s vote is likely to have a huge impact. Despite voting in favor of EFCA in the previous Congress, Specter is now undecided - a fact confirmed by a new Wall Street Journal article.

If Specter votes for card-checks, he would invigorate conservative opposition and potentially seal his primary fate. But if he votes against it, he would face huge trouble in the general election: labor might have has been shy at going all out in the past against a sometimes-sympathetic lawmaker, but they will not hold back anything against any Senator who sabotages EFCA - and Pennsylvania is certainly union-heavy.

Could card-check be what pushes Specter to leave the GOP, then? Markos Moulitsas (aka kos) is hearing from his obviously strong sources in the AFL-CIO that unions are ready to actively help Specter if he supports card-checks (they are so dependent on this legislation that they would be ready to campaign on behalf of a Republican lawmaker). Yet, labor’s support would obviously not be helpful in a Republican primary, as conservative voters disdain unions; unions could only help in the general election… or in the Democratic primary.

We are hearing a lot of speculation about Specter potentially switching parties, but the Senator would face a major obstacle: winning the Democratic primary. Conservative voters might hate Specter, but that does not mean that liberals will welcome a five-term Republican lawmaker with open arms. To win the Democratic nomination, Specter would need to receive some support from the establishment, and what better way for him to build himself a base than to vote for EFCA and have union members campaign on his behalf?

Stranger things have happened in politics, and I am starting to wonder how likely the state’s prominetn Democrats are to jump in the race with all this confusion and this uncertainty.


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Solis and voting rights: Two important Senate votes

The Senate took a lengthy recess after passing the stimulus bill two weeks ago, but it finally reconvened today to take up two important matters: the nomination of Hilda Solis for Secretary of Labor and the D.C. voting rights act.

Solis finally joins the Cabinet

Rep. Hilda Solis was the only one of Obama’s original Cabinet picks left to be approved by the Senate. (Apart from Labor, only the Commerce and HHS Departments are still leaderless because of the successive withdrawals of Bill Richardson, Tom Dashle and Judd Gregg.) Despite having been nominated in December and having far less issues than Timothy Geithner, Solis was held up by Senate Republicans for two months.

Today, hours before Harry Reid was scheduled to invoke a cloture vote, Mitch McConnell announced he would not threaten a filibuster. The roll call was overwhelming: 80 Senators voted to confirm her, 17 voted against her.

One of the reasons mentioned by the GOP were $6,400 in outstanding tax liens that were owned by her husband’s business; but the delay’s real reason was undoubtedly Solis’s proximity to labor. The California representative is among Obama’s most progressive Cabinet picks, and Republicans zeroed in on her work for American Rights at Work, a pro-labor advocacy organization, and her advocacy for the Employer Free Choice Act.

EFCA is destined to become one of the biggest battlegrounds in the current Congress, and the length to which Republicans went to delay Solis’s nomination confirms how huge a fight card-check will provoke. EFCA is labor’s top priority, and they are heavily lobbying the Administration to get quick proceedings; given that a few Senate Republicans like Arlen Specter have supported EFCA in the past, Democrats will have no excuse not to pass the bill - and labor will certainly not forgive nor forget if Obama recants on his campaign promise.

On the other side, business groups have been mobilizing for months and putting pressure on conservative Democrats (though this is one vote on which Democrats cannot afford to buck their leadership if they come from districts where labor has any strength); and Solis did not help her cause by strangely equivocating during her Senate hearings when asked about her position on card-checks.

Also: Solis’s nomination leaves her district vacant. A special election is expected to be held in May, and most of the action should take place in the Democratic primary. CA-32 is a heavily Hispanic, heavily Democratic district: Obama defeated John McCain 68% to 30%.

D.C. voting rights pass first big hurdle

A similar bill had failed in the previous congress by only three votes, but proponents of D.C. voting rights were heartened by Democrats’ Senate gains and they pushed ahead with a new bill, that adds two House seats to the lower chamber, bringing the total to 437. One is attributed to D.C., granting the District its first political representation ever; the other goes to Utah, which had just missed an extra seat in the round of redistricting at the start of this decade and which will thus have four House districts.

Democrats were confident that they would be able to get the bill past the Senate this year, but there was some margin of uncertainty given that Al Franken has yet to be seated, Ted Kennedy never shows up in the Senate and Kay Hagan flirted with the possibility of a no vote. When all was said and done, the bill passed with 62 votes in favor and 34 against. Two Democrats voted “nay” (Max Baucus and Robert Byrd) while eight Republicans voted “yea” (Hatch, Snowe, Specter, Voinovich, Collins, Cochran, Lugar and Murkowski).

The bill still has a long way to go: It must survive the Senate’s amendment procedure (Republicans are expected to try and load the bill with gun-right provision), pass the House (which looks far more likely) and then survive a constitutional challenge. The bill’s opponents point out that the Constitution allows representation only to the states, and that D.C. can be given voting rights only via constitutional amendment. Yet, the constitution’s other state-only clauses are applied in D.C., whether the right to a trial by jury or the federal income tax. Raw Fisher provides some detail:

The Constitution talks about “the several States” in several places, and nobody has sought to exclude Washington residents from the laws, benefits and responsibilities laid out in those other clauses of the document. Examples: D.C. citizens are subject to the same laws governing interstate commerce as anyone else in the country is, yet the Constitution uses exactly the same words to give Congress the power to “regulate Commerce…among the several States” as it does in the language setting up the House of Representatives. D.C. residents similarly serve in the National Guard and the military despite the Constitution’s reference to “the Militia of the several States.

The bill’s proponents are unlikely to be interested in the constitutional amendment route given that such a path was unsuccessful: Congress passed an amendment in the late 1970s, but only 16 states out of a required 38 ratified the amendment. In any case, federal courts are expected to take up the matter quickly, but this issue could take years to resolve so it remains to be seen whether a final ruling will even be delivered in time for the 2010 midterms.

Another fascinating subplot in this story is the mechanism Utah will use to draw its new congressional district. The House bill calls for this fourth seat to be an at-large seat until the state legislature redraws the map at the beginning of the next decade, as it is scheduled to. But the Senate seat has no such provision. Depending on what the final bill will look like, Utah’s legislature might have to redraw the state’s districts in time for the 2010 midterms, and this could have major repercussions for the sole Democrat of the state’s congressional delegation, Rep. Matheson.

On the one hand, the GOP could make his district even more inhospitable, though that could mean putting Democratic-leaning precincts in the fourth district and potentially opening the door to Democrats seizing newly-created UT-04? Or the GOP could seek to ensure that UT-04 falls in GOP hands, in which case they would be likely to consolidate blue precincts in Matheson’s UT-02, rendering the Democrat far safer than he has ever been.



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  • All good things must come to an end

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  • What remains on the table

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  • Confusion in Connecticut (Updated)

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    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Results thread, part 2: Dems suffer staggering losses in House and legislatives races, limit damage in statewide races

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Election Night results thread: Rep. Boucher’s fall first surprise of the night

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Election night cheat sheet

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Final ratings: Democrats brace for historic losses

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • What to watch for down-ballot

Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

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