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The Rose Garden: Card Check Promises a Gut Check in 2010

There will be an “awful busy start to next year,” a senior Democratic leadership aide said. The unions “have a long list of ideas that they want,” he said.

Reid’s office was not willing to publicly commit to a date. “The Employee Free Choice Act remains a top priority for Senator Reid, but he has not scheduled any specific time to begin debating the bill,” a Reid spokesman said.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a liberal who is close to the unions, said he thought a measure could get through early in the year, asserting that Democrats need “only one or two votes” to get to 60.

One of those votes is Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), a moderate facing a tough battle for re-election. Obama must have her support to pass health overhaul — a difficult vote for her — and he will be stretching her even further politically by asking her to support card check.

Business lobbyists will focus on her and others they may be able to pick off, and they plan to play hardball.

“We will take no prisoners when it comes to lobbying the Senators we need to lobby, and they know who they are,” said Randel Johnson, chief labor lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The business community will go to the mat on the Employee Free Choice Act whenever it is scheduled,” he said.

Business officials believe they have a wider target than the “one or two” votes seen by Brown. Included along with Lincoln on the list are Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.).

White House officials declined to comment.

“The expectation is that the White House will support this,” one top union lobbyist said.

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