After a lengthy partisan standoff the Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Obama’s picks to the National Labor Relations Board, a move that filled the panel’s five seats with undisputed members for the first time in years.
The three Democratic-backed and two Republican-supported nominees to the board were approved as expected after the chamber’s leaders struck a deal earlier this month that lifted a GOP block on several Obama nominations.
The dispute stemmed from Obama’s January 2012 appointment of three members to the board — which resolves complaints of unfair labor practices and conducts elections for labor union representation — when the Senate was on break. Presidents can circumvent required Senate approval if the chamber is on recess, a move Mr. Obama deemed necessary because of repeated GOP blocks of his nominations to the panel.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit later ruled the president violated law when he bypassed the Senate, saying recess appointments are only constitutional if the vacancies and appointments occur in between official sessions of Congress.
The Democratic picks are Kent Hirozawa, the NLRB’s chief counsel; Mark Gaston Pearce, the board’s current chairman; and Nancy Schiffer, a former AFL-CIO associate general counsel.
The Republican nominees are a pair of attorneys who have worked with employers on labor issues; Philip Miscimarra and Harry Johnson.
Without at least one of the confirmations the NLRB would’ve been in limbo by late August when Pearce’s five-year term expires — leaving the agency with just two members, short of the three legally required to conduct business.
Tuesday’s action is part of the partisan truce reached two weeks ago that also allowed Obama to fill the top posts at the FBI, the Labor Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.