But even Senate Democrats acknowledge they don’t have the votes to pass a stand-alone bill, and may not even have all the Democrats’ votes. Attaching the labor provisions to an infrastructure package or some other legislation may be the best option available.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said getting the bill’s provisions into an infrastructure package is the top priority right now. It’s unlikely the legislation would get the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster, he added.
Among the bill’s provisions is one that supporters consider crucial to making it easier to form a union: the ability to require financial payments from employers that break labor laws during an organizing campaign. Another provision related to organizing campaigns would ban company practices to discourage employees from joining a union.
The bill would also override state “right to work” laws that allow workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement to opt out of paying union dues and establish a stricter definition for employees and independent contractors.
“I have a hard time imagining enough Republicans agreeing to it,” Kaine said in an interview. “So the question would be, could you do it under reconciliation?”
Pass the infrastructure bill WITHOUT the Republicans. That will create jobs of the future in power charging stations.
The administration is determined to get the PRO Act embedded into law by hook or by crook, and at this point, it seems to be the latter. To their credit, Republicans have been pushing back on its passage, and even Senator Kyrsten Sinema remains lukewarm, despite the strongarm tactics by Schemin’ Chuck Schumer and her more progressive constituents.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is making the noises of working with Democrats on infrastructure, but if Democrats are as desperate to ensure the PRO Act provisions remain embedded in the bill, they will dance with Republicans for the necessity of seeing it through, then do the creative crafting of their wants in reconciliation.
Democrats are considering whether to adopt a second budget resolution for fiscal 2021 and use it to pass legislation that couldn’t survive a Senate filibuster. Reconciliation bills need only a simple majority to pass in the Senate.
But the rules give the Senate parliamentarian authority to decide whether provisions meet the budgetary requirements of reconciliation. The parliamentarian in February blocked Democrats’ attempt to raise the minimum wage through a COVID-19 relief package passed through reconciliation.
Kaine said some provisions in the labor bill, such as the financial penalties, may be attached to other measures, possibly including legislation passed under reconciliation.