President Obama on Thursday acknowledged there aren’t the votes to pass the union-sought bill to make it easier to form labor unions, and said congressional backers will have to rewrite the bill to find common ground.
“I’m supportive of it, but there aren’t enough votes right now in the Senate to get this bill passed,” Mr. Obama said at a town hall in Rio Rancho, N.M., saying that some parts such as the provision removing the requirement for a secret ballot to form a union will have to be deleted.
It’s been clear for some time that the bill did not have enough support to overcome a filibuster, but Mr. Obama’s acknowledgment shifts pressure from opponents back to supporters, who will now have to try to come up with new legislation that can get agreement.
All 40 Senate Republicans and several Senate Democrats have said they oppose the bill as written, meaning there are enough votes to block the measure with a filibuster.
“It’s going to have a chance at passage, but there’s still more work to be done,” Mr. Obama said.
Businesses object to removing the secret ballot and replacing it with a process they call “card check,” which would allow a union to form when a majority of workers sign a public declaration. They fear that with a public process unions would pressure workers to join.
At the town hall Mr. Obama also took aim at the press, arguing they are holding him to a double standard by saying the $17 billion in spending cuts he proposed last week is small, but criticizing congressional earmark spending, which totals in the same ballpark.
“You can’t have it both ways. if those earmarks were important, than this money’s important too,” Mr. Obama said.
But it was Mr. Obama who said during last year’s campaign that the money for earmarks was not significant when compared to the size of the federal budget.
Mr. Obama, who in his early years in the Senate requested earmarks but swore them off by the end of his tenure there, said he now wants to do away with them — a declaration that goes further than his recent statements.
“I want to get rid of earmarks, but the truth of the matter is they’re only 1 percent of the federal budget,” he said at the town hall.