by Jeremy Leaming
Republican senators bent on shuttering or at least greatly hindering the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which is charged with protecting the right of workers to organize, continued their efforts of obstruction by holding up nominees to the five-member board. The Senate minority also sought to delay or scuttle the president’s nominations to the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Labor and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Senate Democrats are discussing how best to reform chamber processes to facilitate more progress and action on various nominations. We may learn more following Tuesday’s Senate Democratic Caucus lunch meeting if Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) raises the issue there with his colleagues.
Regarding the NLRB, which Republicans have long maintained is an entity harmful to business interests, Senate Republicans blocked attempts to hold up-or-down votes on the nominations of Mark Gaston Pearce, Richard F. Griffin, Jr., Sharon Block, Harry I. Johnson III and Philip A. Miscimarra. Republicans have pointed to an opinion issued earlier this year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that President Obama’s now-expired recess appoints of some nominees were unconstitutional.
The Republicans argue that until the litigation in the case, NLRB v. Noel Canning, is resolved the labor board should not be permitted to function. The Supreme Court announced in June it would consider the case during its next term. Business lobbyists and their allies in the Senate have looked for all kinds of ways to paralyze or greatly hobble the NLRB, such as refusing to consider to the president’s nominations, which led to the recess appointments.
After the president sent his package of nominees to the NLRB this spring, ACSblog featured guest blog posts on the struggle over the labor board. They include compelling stories about the work of the NLRB and provide detailed context of the ongoing controversy:
Why We Need the NLRB, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)
Enforce the Law: Kafkaesque Reflections on the NLRB, Anne Marie Lofaso, West Virginia University College of Law
Sen. Lamar Alexander a Problem-Solver Turned Partisan Warrior, Norman J. Ornstein, AEI
Partial Remedy for Governmental Abandonment of Workers’ Rights: Confirm Five Members for the NLRB, Ann C. Hodges, University of Richmond
Senate Must Confirm NLRB Nominees Now to Protect Workers, Economy, Johnda Bentley, SEIU
Senate Obstructionists’ Ongoing War on National Labor Relations Agency, J. Chris Sanders, Jobs With Justice