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The “New” EFCA That Never Was

Arlen Specter made quite a splash yesterday with his declaration that a new version of the Employee Free Choice Act had garnered the 60 votes needed for passage in the Senate.  

Yesterday, the newly Democratic lawmaker appeared before the AFL-CIO convention. He announced that a compromise on EFCA has been “pounded out” and would pass by year’s end – to great applause.

After his speech, Specter offered reporters some details of the “new” legislation: a deal that apparently key allies weren’t aware of, especially dropping the “card check” provision of the bill. National Journal’s CongressDaily sorts out the details here:  

“After a key legislator described a pending compromise on card-check legislation Tuesday, backers scrambled to tamp down speculation that a deal on the labor reform bill has been finalized. …

“‘There is no final deal in place,’ said incoming AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. ‘We are going to keep fighting for labor law reform that will allow workers to join a union free from intimidation and harassment.’

“Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Tom Harkin, an outspoken proponent of the union-backed bill, declined to discuss the details of a potential compromise.

“‘I've not discussed it publicly because it's not quite ready [for me to] do so yet,’ Harkin said, adding that much work has been done to hammer out compromise language that both skittish Democrats and union leaders can swallow.

“Specter's office emphasized late Tuesday that no formal legislative language has been completed, saying that the senator, who abruptly jumped from the Republican Party to Democratic ranks earlier this year, was simply expressing optimism that a deal may be reached.

“‘There's no deal, so [there's] no language to share,’ said a spokeswoman.

“Senate negotiators have not met to discuss the legislation since July.”

Dann and Hunt, “Senators Say Deal On Card-Check Measure Not Yet Final,” CongressDaily (subscription required), 09.16.09 

Confusion and infighting among EFCA supporters is nothing new – just like the terrible ideas in the bill and yesterday’s phantom compromise. It was bad legislation when it was introduced in March, and it’s just as lousy today.

Even with some of the new features that have been floated by Specter and others in the media, EFCA can kill hundreds of thousands of jobs at a time when the country desperately needs them. Supporters’ claims that it can help our weakened economy are, like the claim of a compromise, an illusion.

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