As the House Committee on the Budget prepares to slog through its “mark up” of President Obama’s budget today, Rep. Steny Hoyer confirmed in his “pen and pad” session with media Tuesday that the “cap and trade” scheme, or some such carbon tax, would not be part of a budget reconciliation maneuver.
“Obviously, there are alternatives, as your question premised,” Hoyer told reporters. “My view is the answer is no. … I think that on that issue of how you get there will not be assumed by the budget. … Obviously, we need to get there, but how you get there will have to be debated by the authorizing committees, proposals made and adopted by the Congress. So I don’t think the budget will pre-determine the answer to that question.”
When asked in a follow-up if “cap and trade” was completely out of the budget, Hoyer responded, “I don’t know that cap and trade is out. I don’t want to pre-judge the outcome of the discussions, but I think those are the parameters of the discussion.
“That’s not an answer. I understand that I’m evading your question… I don’t want you to think that I think that I’m giving you an answer,” Hoyer said. “I want Spratt and his committee to decide that. … Reconciliation does not imply what you’re going to reconcile — what the outcome will be.”
Hoyer said discussions were still underway over whether or not to attempt to nationalize health care through a budget reconciliation tactic.
Card Check Legislation in Trouble in the Senate
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) late yesterday announced that he would not support the deceptively-named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) that would end secret ballot protections for workers when deciding whether or not to unionize their workplace as well as force arbitration as a mandatory measure in labor disputes. Specter offered the lone Republican support for the EFCA legislation two years ago.
From Specter’s floor statement:
“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.
“I am announcing my decision now because I have consulted with a very large number of interested parties on both sides and I have made up my mind. Knowing that I will not support cloture on this bill, senators may choose to move on and amend the NRLA as I have suggested or otherwise. This announcement should end the rumor mill that I have made some deal for my political advantage. I have not traded my vote in the past and I would not do so now.”
Labor unions had publicly offered to support Specter in his 2010 re-election bid if he would vote for the measure which led to some accusations of deal-making.
Former Congressman Pat Toomey, the primary opponent who nearly beat Specter in 2004, told HUMAN EVENTS, “When Senator Specter does a flip flop, it’s worth checking the fine print,” Toomey said. “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.”
I spoke with Mark McKinnon, a close advisor to presidential candidate John McCain and a representative of the Workforce Fairness Institute, an educational group opposed to EFCA. “There is no question that in this entire debate that Arlen Specter has been the focus of a great deal of attention because he was the potential 60th vote for cloture on this issue,” McKinnon said. “Without Arlen Specter’s vote, the Employee Free Choice Act is dead in the water because no matter how you count the Democratic votes, there are only 58 or 59. You need one Republican, and the only Republican who suggested that he might consider voting for this perhaps is Arlen Specter, and he has made it clear that under the current circumstance that he is not willing to vote for cloture.”
For all who take Sen. Specter at his word, there you have it.