As Indiana Democrats continue to stay out of the State house to protest the right-to-work (for less) legislation that Republicans want to hammer through, the state Senate has gotten to work on the bill. The Senate Labor Committee passed right-to-work on Friday, but one Republican joined all the Democrats in voting against it. Indiana Democrats are making their stand in the House rather than the Senate.
That crack in the front lends some credence to Chris Bowers’ claim that Democrats are close to beating right-to-work on the floor. Bowers reasons that the $1,000-a-day fines against Democrats who miss legislature sessions, which present a real hardship in a state where lawmakers make only $23,000 a year for their duties, aren’t being done just out of principle:
Why do Democrats continue to hold out, despite facing very real financial threats to themselves and their families, and despite Republicans holding a 60-40 majority in the House of Representatives? Because Democrats and unions are within striking distance of stopping the bill.
A source close to the process has told Daily Kos that Indiana Democrats are “very close to having the votes to defeat the bill on the floor.” A total of 51 votes is needed to defeat the bill, and while Democrats are united in opposition, Republicans are divided.
That stands in contrast to major media claims that right-to-work will pass. Rep. Patrick Bauer, the Democratic leader of the House, did tell the New York Times that “We know we can’t stay out forever,” and the official line has been that they only wanted to extend debate on the bill rather than stop it. But Republicans are not unified in their support, knowing that passing right-to-work would have serious impacts on their short-term political futures.
It’s hard to know how this will wind up. Five of the forty House Democrats in the caucus have showed up for work, and only seven are needed to give Republicans a quorum. So whether Democrats can hold out until they secure defeat on the floor will be unclear until the bill comes up for a vote.
Update: Dems return for at least a day, and the bill may now be set to pass the House.