Democrats Take Another Big Step Forward In Quest to Pass Controversial PRO Act
Washington D.C. – Democrats picked up more momentum this week in their quest to pass legislation most trucking groups fear will wipe out tens of thousands of independent contractors.
Speaking at a virtual National Press Club event on Monday, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced his support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.
“Fifty percent of unions fail in their first year of organizing,” Manchin said. “This legislation will level the playing field.”
This is another significant victory for Democrats as Sen. Manchin’s support for the PRO Act is essential if it is to pass.
The West Virginia senator has a reputation as a moderate, yet votes with his party an overwhelming majority of the time.
Still, opponents of the PRO Act were optimistic Mr. Manchin would ultimately oppose the bill making passage almost impossible for Democrats.
Instead, Manchin will now sign on as a co-sponsor.
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His support will bring the total number of Senate co-sponsors to 46.
Under most circumstances passage of the bill would require 60 votes in the Senate.
However, Democrats scored a huge win earlier this month when Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough delivered a favorable ruling allowing them to use a budgetary tool known as “reconciliation” to pass two more pieces of legislation during this fiscal year.
Reconciliation only requires 51 votes to approve a measure.
Given the U.S. Senate is so closely divided (50-50), the Democrats cannot afford to lose a single member of their caucus in order to allow Vice President Kamala Harris the opportunity to cast the deciding vote.
According to The Intercept, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has told labor leaders he will bring the PRO Act to the floor as soon as it has 50 co-sponsors.
The only Democratic caucus holdouts at the moment are Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, along with Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) an Angus King (I-MA).
However, Manchin’s support will certainly add mounting pressure to those Democrats still undecided.
It remains unclear if the Democrats will attempt to pass the PRO Act using reconciliation as such measures must be related to budgetary matters in order to qualify for the seldom-used tactic.
If Democrats decide to take that course of action, the Parliamentarian could still disallow it on grounds the PRO Act is not strictly a budgetary measure.
Still, it appears many independent contractors, not just those in the trucking industry, could soon be holding their collective breath as this legislative battle could be decided by the slimmest of margins.
TransportationNation.com will continue to closely track new developments.