by Michael Fox
Assuming that all Democrats vote for cloture, which at this point is very far from certain, the 60th and determining vote could be from Republican Senator Specter who already has crossed party lines to vote with the Obama administration to support the stimulus package. Because of internal Pennsylvania Republican politics, there has been tremendous speculation about his political future and how it may impact his vote. The latest from Daily Kos, PA-Sen: Specter inches closer to leaving the GOP.
Although saying he won't leave the Republican party, Specter now is openly raising the possibility of running as an Independent, a la Lieberman, but caucusing with the Republican party. He can't do it exactly as Lieberman did, since Pennsylvania has a sore loser law, so he would have to run as an independent rather than first trying (and losing) the Republican primary.
While the politics is fascinating, more important his how it will impact his vote on EFCA. To me, nothing about his situation makes it look more likely that he will change his position from last Congress and now vote against cloture.
A colleague of mine who met with Republican Senators on Tuesday and Wednesday as part a lobbying effort by a trade association tells me that they believe they have 40 votes to filibuster and block EFCA. Now they are trying to get some Dems on board to prevent the EFCA bill from coming up again and again (Landrieu is targeted, among others)
Specter is not, nor ever was, the 60th vote. At best, he's 59—and that assumes Franken is seated. The party line vote you got in the last Congress was only because it wasn't close. Look at the cosponsors of both the current and the last session's version—about 10 less cosponsors, and Lincoln and Pryor are absent from both lists.
Regards, Jon-Erik G. Storm
Although I don't believe there are 60 votes FOR the EFCA, I don't believe there are 40 committed votes against CLOTURE, either. (And you need 41 if Franken is seated when the roll is called.) There is a good chance that the actual vote will get substantially less, perhaps even 50+Biden. So, some may be committing to no on the actual bill, but at least a handful are waiting to see what's what before they commit on cloture.
Landrieu is a possibility, but it's much more likely that one or both of the Arkansas senators will vote against EFCA in its current form. Landrieu was a cosponsor of the bill in the last Congress.
I would be surprised if you get 40 public commitments to vote against cloture right now, especially while the Beltway is talking about a compromise. An altered version could get as many as 5 GOP votes.