The White House has just announced the President’s intention to make recess appointments of 15 nominees, bypassing Senate confirmation. Included are two of the three pending nominees to the National Labor Relations Board, controversial SEIU counsel Craig Becker and Buffalo labor lawyer, Mark Pearce, both Democrats.
The business community has vigorously opposed the Becker appointment because of his record of radical views on labor that would exclude any employer involvement, including expression of opinion, when unions try to organize a business. See earlier Shopfloor.org posts. On Feb. 9, the Senate failed to invoke cloture on a bipartisan 52-33 vote.
While a disappointment, the recess appointments come as no surprise. Speaking to the AFL-CIO officials in Florida earlier this month, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis predicted the unions “will be very pleased” by the President’s actions on Becker. This week, labor leaders like the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka called on the President to appoint the two Democratic nominees to the board, and as noted below, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid — previously a sharp critic of recess appointments — signalled his assent.
Indeed, the White House makes no mention of the third pending nominee to the NLRB, the Republican designee, Brian Hayes, the Minority’s Labor Policy Director on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
Here’s the gist of the White House news release:
President Obama Announces Recess Appointments to Key Administration Positions
Fifteen Appointees Have Waited an Average of 214 Days for Senate Confirmation
WASHINGTON –After facing months of Republican obstruction to administration nominees, President Obama announced his intent to recess appoint fifteen nominees to fill critical administration posts that have been left vacant, including key positions on the economic team and on boards that have been left with vacancies for months.
“The United States Senate has the responsibility to approve or disapprove of my nominees. But if, in the interest of scoring political points, Republicans in the Senate refuse to exercise that responsibility, I must act in the interest of the American people and exercise my authority to fill these positions on an interim basis,” said President Barack Obama. “Most of the men and women whose appointments I am announcing today were approved by Senate committees months ago, yet still await a vote of the Senate. At a time of economic emergency, two top appointees to the Department of Treasury have been held up for nearly six months. I simply cannot allow partisan politics to stand in the way of the basic functioning of government.”
Following their appointment, these nominees will remain in the Senate for confirmation.
Becker was indeed approved by the Senate HELP Committee on a partyline vote, but as noted, he lacked sufficient support in the full Senate to win confirmation. Opposing him were two Democratic Senators, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.
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