House Blue Dogs On EFCA: Let Senate Go First

House "moderates" want political shelter:

Blue Dog Dems have told House leader Steny Hoyer that they don't want a vote on Employee Free Choice before the Senate because they fear they'll end up having to vote for two different versions of the measure, compounding the political damage they may face in moderate districts, the aide says.

"Their concern is that the House will pass something, then the Senate will take up the bill and do something different," the senior leadership aide tells me. "The Blue Dogs don't want to end up voting on something that won't even become law. They're saying, `See what can get through the Senate first, and then we'll vote on it.'"

Reportedly, the Dem leadership in the House agreed.

Seems Employee Free Choice Act will come soon, since Blue Dogs are already ducking for cover. So that's good.

But doesn't this move strip labor of leverage with fence-sitters in the Senate? Shouldn't we avoid ceding more agenda-setting power to Snowe and Specter?

A good reminder that getting 60 Dems in the Senate wasn't an arbitrary goal. Wouldn't it be nice if every legislative issue didn't hinge on the whims of one or two Republicans?

Update [2009-2-18 12:42:59 by Josh Orton]: More succinctly: this move sacrifices progressive negotiation with Senate moderates. Rather than force them to decide which House-passed provisions to oppose, Blue Dogs want Senate moderates to preemptively shot-call.

Tags: Blue Dogs, EFCA (all tags)

Comments

16 Comments

Re: House Blue Dogs On EFCA: Let Senate Go First

I'm not sure why this would strip labor of leverage with people like Specter.  They're the ones standing in the way whichever route this bill takes.

by Steve M 2009-02-18 07:29AM | 0 recs
Re: House Blue Dogs On EFCA: Let Senate Go First

It lets Senate moderates set the agenda. If you pass something relatively more progressive in the House first, moderates in the Senate then face a political calculation about which provisions to oppose - and could be seen as obstructionist if they go too far. If you let the Senate go first, they're preemptively calling the shots.

There's no negotiation.

by Josh Orton 2009-02-18 07:37AM | 0 recs
Re: House Blue Dogs On EFCA: Let Senate Go First

I get what you're saying now, but I still don't know if I agree.  Whether or not the House goes first, isn't the starting point going to be the same: the progressive version of the EFCA as it currently exists, just as it was introduced by Ted Kennedy in the last Congress and presumably will be in this one?

In other words: take Kennedy's bill.  Either you're going to pass it in the House as written and then introduce it in the Senate, or you're going to skip the House and introduce it in the Senate to start with.  Either way, if you want to box the moderates into a corner on something, you can make them introduce an amendment and go on record publicly.  I'm not sure how much leverage this truly costs in the real world.

by Steve M 2009-02-18 07:50AM | 0 recs
I have a hard time seeing

EFCA pass in any form once Franken is seated unless there are Democrats opposed to it, which is possible with the Arkansas Senators and Ben Nelson.

But if every Democrat is behnid it, I have a hard time seeing a scenario where all 41 Republicans oppose it..surely we should be able to win the votes of Specter, Snowe or Grassley on this one.

by DTOzone 2009-02-18 07:54AM | 0 recs
Yes

Wouldn't it be nice if every legislative issue didn't hinge on the whims of one or two Republicans?

This is, unfortunately, how our government was designed...preventing "tyranny of the majority" sounded good at the time...nobody thought about "tyranny of the minority"

by DTOzone 2009-02-18 07:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Yes

Sure - which is why I'm not convinced we should abolish the filibuster. But I do think democratically electing as many Senators as possible is important. I want to get to 60 that way.

by Josh Orton 2009-02-18 07:44AM | 0 recs
the cynic in me

believes that if we get to 60 or 61 or 62, the only difference is that people like Nelson, Bayh and Landrieu will be the "new" Snowe, Specter and Collins.

by desmoinesdem 2009-02-18 07:54AM | 0 recs
Re: the cynic in me

Landrieu is a cosponsor, and Nelson has not been opposed in the past.  It's the arkansas senators we need to worry about...

by LordMike 2009-02-18 08:00AM | 0 recs
We only need them to vote for cloture

we have more than enough for passage otherwise.

by DTOzone 2009-02-18 09:09AM | 0 recs
Re: We only need them to vote for cloture

Exactly. Why do people forget this?

by Lolis 2009-02-18 09:12AM | 0 recs
Re: the cynic in me

Right, but I'd rather negotiate within our own caucus.

by Josh Orton 2009-02-18 09:21AM | 0 recs
Re: the cynic in me

I was talking to someone who works with the Hill the other day.   For any given piece of legislation, the automatic Democratic votes are around 53-54.

Yes, getting to 61 or 62 might mean that Nelson, Bayh, and Landrieu are the "new" Snowe, Specter, and Collins but that's still a leftward shift.

The frustrating thing is that some of the folks in the pivot are doing it not for policy reasons per se but to prove that they're important.

by InigoMontoya 2009-02-18 10:14AM | 0 recs
Re: House Blue Dogs On EFCA: Let Senate Go First

It used to be that the blue dogs were surprising champions of this bill, now they are running scared?  What gives?

Although, I can see their point.  This bill is going to be tough enough to pass as it is, having to do a conference and try and pass it again in both houses is going to be doubly difficult.  

There was no conference on the bill before.  The senate simply failed to pass the house bill.  Assuming the senate bill stays the same, there really isn't much issue between that chamber and the house.  Make it as expedient as possible!

by LordMike 2009-02-18 08:02AM | 0 recs
Re: House Blue Dogs On EFCA: Let Senate Go First

I think they are saying that they have no problem voting for it, they just don't want to incur the political risk if it's for nothing.

by Steve M 2009-02-18 08:54AM | 0 recs
It's a different set of Moderate power brokers

This go around.

As someone mentioned, not sure this will be instantly opposed by Nelson, but it will be the Southern Dems that oppose.

Anyone interested should read "Deer Hunting With Jesus" to see WHY the south hates the unions so much...

And, as with all things southern strategy, it's history begins with race.

by WashStateBlue 2009-02-18 08:30AM | 0 recs
When they voted on this in 2007

All but two House Democrats supported the bill; the problem was in the Senate, where every Republican - even "moderates" like Snowe and Specter - voted against cloture.

If I were in the House, conservative or not, I wouldn't care to waste political capital to vote on a controversial bill unless I knew that it would ultimately pass.

Let the Senate prove it's worth their time before they schedule a vote.

by Drew 2009-02-18 12:00PM | 0 recs

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