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Card Check’ Compromise Getting Closer

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) indicated Friday that a group of Senators is closing in on a compromise on the long-stalled Employee Free Choice Act, a top priority for labor unions this year. “We’re going to do something this summer. Stuff’s happening. We’re getting closer,— said Brown, a key stakeholder in months-long negotiations over the bill. Led by Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa), the group of Democrats including Sens. Mark Pryor (Ark.), Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Arlen Specter (Pa.) and Brown has for weeks held closed-door meetings to hatch a compromise on the bill that would loosen labor-organizing rules and allow workers to unionize through open-ballot elections.Specter is seen as key to any agreement. Before he defected to the Democratic Party in late April, he took to the floor to oppose the legislation in its current form. Since then, he has softened his tone, but he has repeatedly said he will oppose any proposal that includes the open-ballot rule.“We’re all still working the handful of Democrats,— Brown noted. “We know we’re close to a deal on the arbitration side, and we’re close to a deal on the election side,— Brown said. Harkin spokeswoman Kate Cyrul said her boss “is committed to labor reform this year,— even as the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over the measure, devotes its attention to overhauling the health care system. Recently, Harkin said he would wait to take action until Minnesota’s Senate race is determined. Democrats are awaiting the outcome of the state Supreme Court ruling over the 2008 recount, which pitted Democrat Al Franken against Republican incumbent Norm Coleman. If seated, Franken would give Democrats 60 votes, enough to avert a filibuster.Cyrul would not confirm whether that was still Harkin’s plan, noting only that “progress is being made— and that her boss still hopes to have a bill released soon. “When the compromise is reached, it’s reached,— Cyrul said. “Once we get there, we get there. That’s Harkin’s goal.—

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