The House plans to move ahead with a vote to conditionally shut down the National Labor Relations Board even though President Barack Obama on Tuesday nominated three members to the agency for full terms.
The board has not operated since a federal appeals court ruled in January that two of Obama’s three “recess” appointments when the Senate was not in session were unconstitutional. The third member resigned last year.
“While we welcome the president’s long-overdue effort to resolve the crisis he created, today’s announcement does not abate the chaos surrounding the National Labor Relations Board,” Republican Reps. John Kline of Minnesota, chairman of the House Education Committee, and Phil Roe of Tennessee said in a statement.
“Workers, employers, and unions are stuck in a state of legal limbo as roughly 600 decisions issued by this board remain constitutionally suspect,” the congressmen said. “The House will act this week to prevent the board from exacerbating the current legal uncertainty.”
The nominations come just ahead of the House vote on a bill sponsored by Roe that would immediately freeze all of the board’s activities that require a quorum. The bill could be considered as early as Thursday.
Roe’s bill also would prevent the NLRB from moving to enforce rules it has adopted since Jan. 4, 2012, when the Obama appointments were made.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce last month approved the bill, with Kline saying, “Last year’s unprecedented recess appointment scheme has rendered the board dysfunctional.”
Obama urged the Senate to move swiftly in confirming the members — two Republicans and one Democrat — along with two other Democrats he nominated in February. That would fill all five seats on the board.
“By enforcing workplace protections, upholding the rights of workers and providing a stable workplace environment for businesses, the NLRB plays a vital role in our efforts to grow the economy and strengthen the middle class,” Obama said in a statement.
The NLRB was set up to operate as an independent agency that seeks to protect worker’s rights, but conservative lawmakers have complained that it unfairly sides with unions in many of its decisions.
The White House has insisted the appeals court decision striking down his recess appointments is wrong and plans to appeal it to the Supreme Court by an April 25 deadline.
But the ruling prompted more than 100 businesses to claim the NLRB lacked authority to take action against them because two of its members were not legitimately on the board, the Associated Press reports. It also has frustrated labor unions who worry the board can’t crack down on unfair labor practices.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called the nominations “an important step toward restoring stability to our system of labor-management relations, which has been in disarray since the D.C. Circuit’s decision in the Noel Canning case.”
Trumka said that Obama “putting forward a full, bi-partisan package of nominees to the NLRB is the right thing to do,” he said. The board is traditionally split 3-2, with the edge going to the party occupying the White House.
Obama is re-nominating board Chairman Mark Pearce, a Democrat, and nominating two Republicans — management-side lawyers Harry I. Johnson, III and Philip A. Miscimarra. The president nominated Democrats Sharon Block and Richard Griffin to full terms in February.
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