Becker Renomination Expected, White House is Said to Think

By January 8, 2010Labor Unions

The New York Times follows up the blog reporting on the nominations returned to the White House by the Senate, including the one of most concern to employers: Craig Becker, the SEIU and AFL-CIO lawyer and card check apologist nominated to the National Labor Relations Board.  From “President is Said to Decide to Renominate Six Choices“:

President Obama will renominate Dawn Johnsen to lead the Justice Department’s powerful Office of Legal Counsel, along with his choices for five other jobs that the Senate did not act on last year, a White House official said Thursday.

Strange that no White House official — even Press Secretary Robert Gibbs — will go on the record saying, “These are fantastic, well-qualified nominees, the President stands by them, and of course he will renominate them.” The absence of firm comment invites uncertainty, political risk, and isn’t particularly kind to the nominees either. Plus it keeps the record of the nominees in the news, allowing folks like us to point out yet again that Becker, a union activist, wants to marginalize employers in the running of their own businesses.

Sources familiar with lots of things, including Senate process, tell us that Becker’s renomination would have to return to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which approved his nomination in October along with fellow Democrat Mark Pearce and Republican Brian Hayes. The nominations of Pearce and Hayes were not sent back to the White House, so only Becker must again win committee approval.

How about an actual hearing, with Becker answering questions posed by the committee’s Senators? The written questions allow too much deflection.

UPDATE (2:10 p.m.): Meant to include this article from The Economist, which reports on the legal issues raised by opinions issued from a two-member NLRB.

In the past two years the NLRB has issued over 500 decisions: no mean feat, as it requires two members from opposite sides of the political spectrum to agree. More than 80 of those decisions have been challenged in appellate court on the grounds that the board cannot issue two-member decisions. The NLRB argues that its founding statutes permit a five-member board to delegate power to a three-member board, and that the three-member board may further delegate to a quorum of two. In May, the US Court of Appeals for the Washington, DC, circuit ruled that two members did not constitute a valid quorum. Five other appeals courts ruled in the NLRB’s favour; the Supreme Court will hear one of those cases (New Process Steel v National Labour Relations Board) in March. If the court sides with New Process, the challenged rulings would be void.

President Bush’s nominees in 2008 to create a full board were blocked by Senate Democrats; now, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has placed a hold on Becker.

The Senate reconvenes Jan. 19th, so if President Obama acts quickly he can recess appoint Becker. That appointment would last through the end of 2010.

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