David Michaels has been nominated to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. Although the NAM and many other employer groups have urged the Senate HELP Committee to hold a formal hearing on his nomination, the Committee appears to be moving forward with no such public inquiry. On Wednesday the Committee will consider his nomination in a business meeting with a vote likely to follow.
Senator Harkin (D-IA) who chairs the Senate HELP Committee has expressed his commitment to adhere to long standing Committee precedent and tradition. He recently asserted during the executive session that considered the nomination of Craig Becker to serve on the National Labor Relations Board that it “has been the tradition in our Committee, we will vote on this group of nominees en bloc.” He added that it’s uncommon for the Committee to hold hearings on individual nominees to the NLRB.
If tradition is the determining factor, then the Chairman should hold a hearing on Michaels. As we noted in a joint letter from many employer groups to the Committee:
Finally, nominees for OSHA Assistant Secretary have traditionally had to appear at a hearing, even when the administration and the Senate were controlled by the same party. With the aggressive posture for OSHA being signaled by the Obama administration, Professor Michaels’ nomination should be treated no differently than the other nominees who were given a hearing.