The Republican-controlled Senate has voted 53-46 to kill a National Labor Relations Board rule reducing the time between a union's request for representation and a workers' vote on it.
The legislation now goes to the House, where approval is also assured.
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President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the measure, and the Senate's vote indicates that supporters are far from the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override him.
The AFL-CIO has praised the rule. Senate critics say it would permit what they call ambush elections that limit the ability of businesses to defeat certification elections.
The Senate vote took place under a rarely used law that limits debate on congressional attempts to reject agency rules, and bars opponents from stalling a final vote.