The Washington Post

Senate stalls even GOP nominees

Federal Labor Relations Authority member Thomas Beck, whose patience, though formidable, has its limits.

Take for example outgoing Federal Labor Relations Authority member and former chairman Thomas M. Beck, a Republican who was nominated by Obama a while ago to be the Republican on the three-member National Mediation Board.

By law, most of these alphabet boards — the NLRB, the FTC, the NTSB and so on — must, in effect, have members from both parties, with the White House getting to pick the tie-breaker member.

In order to move these things along, nominees are generally moved in pairs — one R and one D — to make the vote more palatable for each side.

Even so, Beck is used to waiting for the Senate to act. It took him 462 days to be confirmed in 2008 for his current job, when a nasty fight between President George W. Bush and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stalled him until the waning days of the administration. He was in the last batch of confirmees in that year.

This time, Beck had to wait eight months until “his” Democratic counterpart was nominated. Problem was his Democrat was the current chairman of the NMB, Harry Hoglander, who was being tapped for a second term.

Hoglander had infuriated Republicans (and especially Delta Airlines) when the board changed the rules on how labor election votes are counted to make it easier for unions to organize.

So Hoglander was stalled. And, therefore, so was Beck, whose tenure at the FLRA ends at the end of this year. Beck had been kept in limbo for a total of 589 days — likely a modern indoor record — when he asked Obama last week to withdraw the nomination. He’s now looking to work in the private sector health care field at the end of the year.

You know, some guys have no patience.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.


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