Obama: Chances of passing 'card check' now are 'not real high'

Controversial "card-check" legislation doesn't have a good chance of passing through Congress, President Obama acknowledged Monday.

Obama, during a question-and-answer session about the economy in a backyard in Fairfax, Va., said the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA, or "card check") likely doesn't have the 60 votes right now to make it through the Senate.

"The opportunity to get this passed right now is not real high," Obama said.

The president noted his administration is supportive of EFCA, though the window of opportunity to push through the union organizing bill has diminished over time. Labor groups had been hopeful it was one of the first items on which Democrats in the House and Senate would act after winning big majorities in the 2008 elections. 

With this fall's elections likely to give Republicans stronger footing in the House and Senate — if not a majority in one or both houses — the chances of EFCA advancing come next year are seen as fading.

Obama told the AFL-CIO in early August that his administration would "keep on fighting" for the card check bill, which Republican and business interests have rallied against. But the president also pivoted to note that many of the problems in organizing rules that EFCA sought to address might be fixed through administrative action.

Republicans, for their part, had opposed Obama's nominee to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Craig Becker, out of concern the NLRB would issue rules to bypass Congress. The GOP has also warned against the possible use of a lame-duck session of Congress to pass the legislation.

"The Employee Free Choice Act is in response to 20 to 30 years, where it's become more and more difficult for unions to just get a fair election and have their employers actually negotiate with them," Obama said. "The idea behind the EFCA is, let's just make the playing field even."