Republicans Confident Labor Bill Will Fall in Senate
As a largely Democratic-driven labor bill passed the House Thursday, Republican opponents expressed confidence they would be able to either defeat the bill in the Senate or uphold a promised presidential veto.
The House voted 241 to 185 to pass the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800) that would authorize creation of a union if a majority of employees signed cards in favor of doing so. Union organizing elections are now held by a secret-ballot vote.
Republicans say they have the votes to defeat the bill. President Bush has promised a veto and the bill’s opponents do not believe Democrats can get the 60 votes in the Senate to overcome it.
The bill has been the subject of a fierce lobbying battle with labor unions pushing Democratic leaders to pass the bill in part, for labor’s support in winning control of the House; while business groups have adamantly opposed the bill.
The chances are “high” that the veto will stand, said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
But House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) believes that support for the bill will only grow over time. “We’ll see what we can do in the Senate,” he added.
Democrats have yet to formulate a strategy to combat the veto threat, but were eager to cite the bill as a victory for labor.
“Working people have been shafted for long enough,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). He predicted the legislation would make it easier for workers to organize.
Opponents, led by Rep. Howard McKeon (Calif.), the top Republican on the Education and Labor Committee, said the bill is “just a payoff to the union bosses.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is promising to fast track a Senate version of the bill.
“”I will do all I can to move it through the Senate as quickly as possible,” Kennedy said in a statement after the House passed the bill.