The fate of card check seems to be sealed.
Arlen Specter, the controversial Republican from Pennslyvania, said he would vote no on the Employee Free Choice Act, otherwise known as card check, in a speech today on the Senate floor. The move put Democrats one vote short of the 60 needed to invoke cloture, which would lead to a vote and likely passage.
Unless Senate Democrats pull a rabbit out of their hat, there's little hope on the horizon for gaining the extra vote needed to move the bill forward.
Justin Wilson, Managing Director for the Center for Union Facts, called the possibility of the bill's passage "numerically impossible."
With the likely win of Democrat Al Franken over Republican Norm Coleman in the Minnesota Senate race, the sum total of pro-card check votes clocks in at exactly 59. No other Republicans have voiced their support for the bill, though Sen. George Voinovich has been pegged as the most likely candidate to switch over. He has adamantly denied the possibility that he would do so.
Additionally, some moderate Democrats have voiced their concerns about the bill. Specter himself voiced his doubts in his opening words in the Senate:
"My vote on this bill is very difficult for many reasons," he said. "First, on the merits it is a close call, and has been the heaviest lobbied issue I can recall. Second, it is a very emotional issue with labor looking to this legislation to reverse the sttep decline of union membership and business expressing great concern about added costs which would drive many companies...out of business."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is holding out hope that there are other converts lurking in the Senate. The possibility that Specter would switch his position has not been confirmed. Specter did vote for cloture on the bill in 2007.
AFL-CIO president John Sweeney also said Specter's news wasn't discouraging.
"We do not plan to let a hardball campaign from Big Business derail the Employee Free Choice Act or the dreams of workers," said Sweeney in a statement.
Business groups celebrated Specter's choice, and Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, said the move amounted to the "stars and planets" aligning.
"They've moved in the correct path for the united states and for workers rights," he said, at a meeting with the Capitol Research Center.