Lamar Alexander calling for NLRB resignations — again and again

January 29, 2013
Republican senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee (Mark Humphrey/AP) Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). (Mark Humphrey/AP)

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has pressed hard this week for the resignation of two remaining National Labor Relations Board members whom President Obama appointed last year while the Senate was on break.

In case anyone missed it, a federal court of appeals panel ruled Friday that Obama had exceeded his authority with the board appointments because the Senate was not in recess.

Alexander, the ranking member of the Senate committee that oversees labor policy, has called on the board members to resign three times during the past two days: Once on the Senate floor Monday, again that day on Fox News and finally with a blog post Tuesday for the conservative National Review.

Resigning would be a bit premature for the two board members in question. Although the circuit court panel called their legitimacy into question Friday, the Justice Department can appeal that ruling to the full circuit court or the Supreme Court.

Alexander is essentially telling the Obama administration to abandon all hope and surrender now, even though it has a reasonable chance of winning.

If the administration loses an appeal to the Supreme Court, then all the board’s decisions since Jan. 4, 2012 — when Obama made the appointments — would be invalid. The board also would need at least two new appointments from the president to make further decisions in labor disputes, since the previous appointees would not be legitimate.

The opposite would occur if the Justice Department wins an appeal: The board members and their decisions during the past year would be valid.

The NLRB has said it will move forward with business as usual, continuing to issue rulings in labor disputes, despite the circuit court decision.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the same labor-related committee for which Alexander serves as ranking member, issued a statement Friday calling on the board to stand firm against GOP criticism.

“Republicans have made clear that they are willing to disrupt the basic functions of government to stop the NLRB from carrying out its congressionally mandated function to defend the rights of workers,” Harkin said. “I urge the NLRB to continue to do its business until and unless the Supreme Court rules on this important question.”

Ironically, Harkin once made calls of his own for an NLRB resignation. The senator said in May that Obama’s Republican NLRB appointee, Terence Flynn, should step down after the board’s inspector general discovered he had provided a former agency member with a draft board decision for personal gain.

Flynn submitted his resignation later that month.

 

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Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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