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Posted at 05:16 PM ET, 09/15/2011

House passes bill to limit NLRB authority, in battle over Boeing ruling

The House on Thursday approved a bill that would limit the authority of the National Labor Relations Board, the latest salvo in a partisan battle over the agency’s ruling against Boeing earlier this year.

The bill, H.R. 2587, introduced by freshman Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) passed Thursday on a near-party-line 238-to-186 vote. It would prevent the NLRB from “ordering any employer to close, relocate, or transfer employment under any circumstance.”

The bill has little chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it has yet to be scheduled for a vote.

At the heart of the House measure is a months-long dispute over whether Boeing unlawfully retaliated against its union employees in Washington state by transferring a production facility to South Carolina after a series of strikes. The NLRB in April ruled that by moving the facility to a right-to-work state, Boeing was in violation of federal labor laws.

Republicans have charged that the NLRB overstepped its authority, and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) last month subpoenaed the agency for documents related to the case. Democrats contend that the agency’s complaint against Boeing is warranted.

In a statement Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) praised the House vote as a move by the chamber to “remove another obstacle to private-sector job creation and long-term economic growth.”

“This bill blocks the federal government’s National Labor Relations Board from telling businesses where they can and can’t create new jobs,” Boehner said.

“It’s absurd that the federal government would stop American employers from creating new jobs here at home when millions are out of work and the unemployment rate exceeds nine percent. Under this Administration, American companies are free to create jobs in China but they aren’t free to create them in South Carolina. I’m hopeful that the Senate will join us in taking swift action, and help give American job creators the certainty they need to plan and put Americans back to work.”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a floor speech ahead of Thursday’s vote that those voting in favor of the measure would seek to wield the House’s authority on a matter that has not yet been decided by the courts.

“The issue raised in this legislation is referenced to a case that is not yet concluded,” Hoyer said. “And seeks to either pose our judgment for the finder of fact and law’s judgment. Normally we believe that’s a bad practice, in a nation of laws not of men.”

He also argued that the bill demonstrated the “basic difference” between the parties on “whether or not you believe that working men and women have the right to come together, to organize and to bargain collectively for their pay, their benefits and their working conditions.”

Eight Democrats joined 230 Republicans Thursday in backing the measure, while seven Republicans voted with 179 Democrats against it. The bill has little chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it has yet to be scheduled for a vote.

By  |  05:16 PM ET, 09/15/2011

 
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