NLRB finally working with full slate of board members

August 12, 2013

The National Labor Relations Board swore in four Senate-confirmed members on Monday, marking the first time that the panel has worked with a full slate of approved members in nearly a decade.

President Obama tried to bypass the Senate confirmation process in January 2012, appointing three members to the board while lawmakers were on break. However, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the placements were unconstitutional.

(Jon Elswick /AP)
(Jon Elswick /AP)

The Constitution allows so-called “recess appointments” while the Senate is on break, but it does not specify how long lawmakers must be gone before the president can use that option.

Obama placed three members on the board when the Senate was out of town but convening with one GOP lawmaker every three days to prevent recess appointments, copying a tactic Democrats had used during the George W. Bush administration.

Obama renominated two of the recess appointees this year along with three other picks for the panel, but Republicans indicated they would not confirm some of the selections. Lawmakers last month resolved the conflict with a bipartisan deal in which Republicans agreed to stop stalling the confirmation process in exchange for Democrats not trying to change filibuster rules with the so-called “nuclear option.”

The NLRB case has moved to the Supreme Court, where the final decision will determine the validity of hundreds of board rulings that took place with the controversial appointees in place.

The newly sworn-in NLRB members are: Nancy Schiffer, associate general counsel at the AFL-CIO;  Kent Hirozawa, who is chief counsel to NLRB chairman Mark Gaston Pearce; and labor attorneys Harry Johnson and Philip Miscimarra. The fifth board member is current chairman Mark Gaston Pearce.

To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed, friend his Facebook page or e-mail josh.hicks@washpost.comFor more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

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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Josh Hicks · August 12, 2013