Why This U.S. Senator Might Be Trucking’s Best Hope to Stop I/C Wipeout Bill
Washington D.C. – President Biden and Democratic leaders are moving full speed ahead to pass a bill many trucking groups warn will lead to the wipeout of hundreds of thousands of independent contractors, but one United States Senator could derail their plans.
Late last month amid the political rancor over the so-called bipartisan infrastructure deal, both President Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) were clear on their intentions to pass a budget reconciliation bill — likely to include the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act — regardless of whether or not the infrastructure agreement survives.
Though Mr. Biden quickly walked it back in hopes of salvaging the fragile infrastructure deal, Speaker Pelosi doubled down on her promise: “There ain’t gonna be no bipartisan bill unless we have a reconciliation bill passed by the United States Senate.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed the controversial PRO Act most trucking groups say will ultimately destroy the industry’s leased owner-operator model.
The PRO Act, a top Biden Administration legislative priority, then moved to the U.S. Senate where it faced much longer odds because normal rules require 60 votes for passage.
It quickly became clear Democrats would not be able to cobble together the 60 votes needed, so they are seeking to pass it through the oft-abused budgeting tool called “reconciliation,” requiring only 51 votes.
This course of action is Democrats’ only chance for success since they hold only a slim majority in the Senate — with Vice President Kamala Harris likely casting a deciding vote.
However, as it stands, three Democratic senators — Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, along with Mark Warner of Virginia — have not yet expressed support for the PRO Act.
As such, Sens. Sinema and Kelly have come under withering attacks from left-wing grassroots organizations.
Major labor unions have also warned they will pull financial support from each senator if they do not fall in line.
Many Beltway insiders believe Warner and Kelly will ultimately toe the party line, but the wildcard, and maybe trucking’s best hope to stop the PRO Act, is Sinema.
As evidence to this, the pressure on Sinema from the left-wing of her party continues to be ratcheted up.
In recent weeks she has been the target of a barrage of negative press and “anonymous” leaks from former staffers meant to damage her politically.
And it’s not just the PRO Act left-wing activists are furious with Sinema about.
The first-term senator also opposes eliminating the filibuster thereby almost guaranteeing that Democrats’ federal takeover of elections bill (HR 1) will ultimately go down in defeat.
She’s become so reviled in some Democratic circles, a columnist for the uber-left Salon.com recently referred to Sinema as an “arrogant dingbat.”
Sinema is no stranger to controversy though.
Earlier this year, after receiving fierce backlash among Democrats for voting against raising the federal minimum wage, she responded by posting a provocative photo to social media only adding to the fury.
In the picture she is seen sipping a fruity beverage and wearing a ring that reads “F-ck Off.”
The move sent the left-wing Twitterverse into a frenzy cementing Sinema as persona non grata among many Democratic activists.
Regardless of how you interpret Sinema’s clap back to her critics on social media, one thing was made clear: she is not afraid to buck her party.
Will she do it again on the PRO Act?
That’s the question many trucking stakeholders are waiting anxiously to find out.
An important clue could be Sinema’s close ties to and support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber vehemently opposes the PRO Act and continues to lobby for its defeat.
Sinema’s office has refused to provide a statement to Transportation Nation Network (TNN) as to her position on the PRO Act.
However, we will not have to wait much longer to find out as Democrats are expected to soon bring the reconciliation bill to the Senate for a vote.
TransportationNation.com will be tracking it closely.