Tag: Scott Brown

Legislation for Innovation

A joint news release from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), “Senators Klobuchar, Brown introduce bipartisan innovation legislation“:

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Scott Brown (R-MA) today (Monday, Jan. 31)introduced bipartisan legislation that would help revitalize America’s innovative edge and ability to compete in the global economy.

The Innovate America Act would cut red tape to help businesses utilize research and development for new products, target successful education programs, and promote U.S. exports in new markets to strengthen America’s ability to innovate and compete in the global economy.

“Innovation has always been a catalyzing force in Minnesota’s economy,” Klobuchar said.

“By cutting red tape for businesses and focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math education, we can help our businesses attract and retain our country’s brightest scientists, engineers, and researchers. This bill shows we can come together on a competitive agenda that will move America forward.” (continue reading…)

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Top AFL-CIO Official: We’ll Use the NLRB to Achieve Card Check

The Truth about the EFCA blog draws our attention to recent comments from top AFL-CIO organizer Stewart Acuff. Not only are they relevant to the nomination of SEIU attorney Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board, they’re revealing. At The Huffington Post, Acuff writes:

It we aren’t able to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, we will work with President Obama and Vice President Biden and their appointees to the National Labor Relations Board to change the rules governing forming a union through administrative action to once again allow workers in America access to one of the most basic freedoms in a democracy–the freedom of speech and assembly and association so that workers can build the collective power to challenge the Financial Elite and Get America Back to Work.

Splendid, stylish capitalization of Financial Elite, but who’s Get America Back to Work and why do you want to challenge him?

Anyway, Big Labor isn’t even trying to hide it anymore: With the Employee Free Choice Act on life support in the Senate, they want to force its provisions through the administrative process.

No matter their political leanings, you would think Senators would resent labor’s efforts to circumvent the policymaking branch of government.

Which brings us to this editorial in The Charleston Daily Mail,A shocking reward to union supporters“:

Appointing Becker to this board is like appointing George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees to the umpiring crew in the World Series.

Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Robert C. Byrd should oppose this nomination.

Otherwise this morning brings us nothing new on the Becker nomination, other than the swearing in of Sen. Scott Brown from Massachusetts will have an impact on his confirmation.

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Labor Irate

Sam Stein at The Huffington Post reports irritation, recriminations and dyspepsic e-mails coming from organized labor over the now-likely seating of new Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts in time to vote on the cloture motion on confirming Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board.

From “Labor Steaming Over Scott Brown’s Early Seating“:

The labor community is fuming over the expedited plan to seat Senator-elect Scott Brown (R-Mass) this Thursday afternoon, arguing that Democratic leadership is torpedoing one of its most important causes — the nomination of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board.

Caterwauling, too. There’s caterwauling.

Organized labor has elevated the importance of Becker’s nomination, logically viewing him as their man on the NLRB. This afternoon, in an e-mail to Senate staff, the SEIU declared, “This is the highest priority for organized labor…”

We note this background paragraph in Stein’s story:

An associate general counsel for the Service Employees International Union since 1990 and previously counsel for the AFL-CIO, Becker was targeted immediately by GOP lawmakers for being too sympathetic to labor for a post at the NLRB. The White House urged unions not to launch a public campaign around his appointment, arguing that it would pass Congress via an “inside game,” a source working on the process told the Huffington Post.

Was he targeted immediately? We don’t recall that. But if so, perhaps it’s because Becker wrote one of the Obama’s Administration’s first executive orders to slant federal regs toward organized labor.

The Senate HELP Committee’s markup of Becker’s nomination is 10 a.m. Thursday.

And, hey, a new HELP Committee website! Looks nice, with better navigation. Now if Senate Budget could just spruce up its pages.

UPDATE We have yet to see any reliable reporting that Brown is motivated to be sworn in this week because of the upcoming cloture vote on Becker. It’s assumed or unnamed sources are cited. He’s the elected Senator from Massachusetts. Why wouldn’t he want to be sworn in as soon as his election is certified?

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In the Jobs of the Future …And an NLRB Nomination Update

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis testified today at a hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee, providing a general restatement of the Administration’s positions on labor issues.

She did plug the Employee Free Choice Act, but that’s to be expected. Earlier in the Administration when the Secretary left card check out of her remarks organized labor noticed the absence, so a paragraph of boilerplate and canards is now routine.

In the jobs of the future, I will work to ensure that workers’ rights will be protected. In order to rebuild the middle class, we need to level the playing field and restore fair play for all working people. The growing inequality in wages and benefits is partially due to the increasing obstacles workers face in forming unions and engaging in collective bargaining. We need to restore their freedom to do so. This is why the President and I support the Employee Free Choice Act. I know from personal experience that union jobs are good jobs, pay higher wages than non-union jobs, and provide flexibility and benefits like paid leave, child care, education assistance, and retirement security. This legislation can help give workers a voice in the workplace.

You have to love the logic: We’ll give workers a voice by denying them a vote.

What’s else is new this afternoon on the NLRB front, that is, the nomination of union attorney Craig Becker to serve on the National Labor Relations Board? Daniel Foster at National Review’s The Corner relates an account that Scott Brown, Senator-elect of Massachusetts, will have his election certified tomorrow, and that his team wants him sworn in earlier than the previously set date of February 11. Becker’s confirmation is at stake:

The key vote is reportedly on Craig Becker, an appointee to the National Labor Relations Board that Senate Republicans feel is too pro-labor.

Marc Ambinder tweets that a spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said that if Brown wants to be sworn-in tomorrow, “it’s fine” by the majority.

UPDATE (3:37 p.m.): More flurries this afternoon…

UPDATE (3:42 p.m.): More from Marc Ambinder, blogging at The Atlantic:

“They’re moving forward with controversial issues and nominations. These are votes that where his vote is the deciding one,” an outside Brown adviser said.

“This man is now the certified winner in Massachusetts. The question is whether he’s sworn in or not. There are real optical concerns about them moving forward with a nominee  – Craig  Becker — who they would in 48 hours not be able to move.”

What in the world is an “outside Brown advisor?”

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Card Check: Drop It Already

In the aftermath of yesterday’s election in Massachusetts there have been much speculation on how organized labor groups will respond in light of public repudiation of their agenda. BusinessWeek reports AFL-CIO’s Bill Samuels commenting, “Labor leaders are ‘taking stock’ of their agenda today.”

You would hope so.

The message sent by voters in Massachusetts, one echoing across the country, is that the public wants Washington to slow down and do things differently. Labor leaders have insisted all through this Congress that the anti-democratic Employee Free Choice Act is their No. 1 priority, recently claiming again that the bill would pass in the first quarter of this year. But recent polling and the last night’s results – better than any poll — show no public desire for EFCA and the forced unionization it would bring.

Roll Call further reports unnamed union officials saying they plan to “resume closed-door negotiations with Democratic Congressional leaders later this week to discuss the status of EFCA and the now-fragile health care legislation.”

Discussions, OK, but negotiations? The better choice for workers, the economy, and to demonstrate respect for the public is to shelve the Employee Free Choice Act. Even if it’s the unions’ priority, it’s not America’s.

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New Jersey, Virginia, Now Massachusetts All Say ‘Slow Down!’

Dow-Jones does a reaction story on the election of Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts, including a comment from the National Association of Manufacturers’ Jay Timmons. From “Brown Win Will Force Democrats To Reach Across Aisle, Say Analysts“:

Jay Timmons, executive vice president at the National Association of Manufacturers, said Brown’s victory would give moderate Democrats pause about supporting the cap-and-trade bill that passed the House, as well as other initiatives viewed as building up the public sector at the expense of the private sector.

“It’s an extraordinarily clear message from the people of Massachusetts,” Timmons said. “If you couple that with the victories for Republicans from Virginia and New Jersey you’re starting to see a pattern: a none-too-subtle message to the administration to slow down.”

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Massachusetts Senate Election: Just Like Starting Over

Reports from Massachusetts indicate unusually high voter turnout in today’s special election to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) – that is, unusually high for a special election and looking more like general presidential election turnout levels. In this race, it’s hard to say what high turnout means in terms of who wins – Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) or State Sen. Scott Brown (R). Few expected Republicans to have a chance in the Bay State and the race only popped into national news as Brown began to gain ground in polls, eventually pulling ahead in a number of surveys. Heading into Election Day, Brown seemed to have enough momentum to win, or at least to come closer than anyone would have predicted even a few weeks ago.

Clearly, there are local dynamics and policy fights playing into voter sentiment today but the issue that has dominated the national coverage of this race is health care, and it’s worth remembering that there’s probably no other state in the country where health care reform is more in the minds of voters. Former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney signed the first major state-level legislation to attempt universal health care coverage in April 2006. And this issue was pushed by Senator Kennedy during his entire career in the Senate.

A Brown victory, or even a small victory margin for Coakley, should send a clear message to the White House and congressional leaders in Washington that it is time to start over on health care and get it right. If Massachusetts voters are not overwhelmingly convinced that the current health care legislation is important enough to ensure the Democratic majority in the Senate has the 60th vote they need to pass the bill, it is unlikely to have support from the majority of voters in other states. (Lest we forget, the 2010 mid-terms are less than 10 months away and like it or not, health care will be a key issue in the minds of voters everywhere.)

Manufacturers, too, are concerned that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is so fundamentally flawed that we need to “start over” to have a meaningful discussion about reform. The NAM is a member of a broad alliance of business and other groups that want to do health care right, Start Over! You can see the coalition’s membership and TV spots about the Senate health care legislation at http://www.employersforahealthyeconomy.org/.

Teresa DeRoco Cupit is Assistant Vice President, External Affairs, for the NAM.

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