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President renominates recess appointees to NLRB, consumer protection bureau

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins

The White House announced this morning that it was again nominating Richard Griffin and Sharon Block to serve on the National Labor Relations Board. It was also re-nominating Richard Cordray to be director of the newly-formed Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. A fourth person, Karol Virginia Mason, was nominated  to be an assistant attorney general.

Griffin, Block and Cordray are currently serving in the posts they were nominated for, having been placed there by President Obama through recess appointments last year. Last month an Appeals Court ruled that the appointments were unconstitutional, the president having made them when the Senate was not actually in recess. The NLRB has said it will ignore the court’s ruling until and unless the Supreme Court weighs in.

The White House’s announcement today is effectively a vote of confidence in the appointees, though it is also a tacit admission that it erred last year by not giving the Senate more time to consider the nominations. Block and Griffin were first nominated to the NLRB on Dec. 15, 2011. The president then recess appointed them on Jan. 4, 2012, less than three weeks later.

The Senate, which was under the control of a Democratic majority at the time (and still is now), had not even scheduled a hearing on the nominees before they were recess appointed — thus undermining a key argument for recess appointments: that the Senate hasn’t acted or refuses to. The administration simply assumed the Republicans would filibuster but didn’t wait for the GOP to actually do that before it made the appointments — an embarrassing fact as it now tries to defend its action. Renominating the appointees now is an attempt to give the Senate proper time to consider them. This won’t matter regarding the Appeals Court decision though since it is all after the fact. Still, the administration is at least learning from their earlier mistake.

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Sean Higgins

Senior Writer
The Washington Examiner