Senate GOP to Obama: Don't make recess appointments to NLRB

Republican senators have asked President Obama not to recess appoint his two nominees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

In a letter sent to the president on Monday, all 47 GOP senators said he should allow the Senate to consider his nominees, Sharon Block and Richard Griffin.

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"We are writing to urge you not to undermine the Senate’s advice and consent role by attempting to place your recently announced nominees to National Labor Relations Board, Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, in those positions through recess appointments. Moreover, we urge to instead allow for a full and thorough review of their qualifications through regular order in the Senate," the letter states.

Block is a former aide to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and a senior Labor Department official who used to work at the NLRB. Griffin is the general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers. Obama nominated them to the board last week.

The Constitution requires Senate confirmation of many federal offices but a president can by-pass that by appointing the person while the Senate is in recess. A president typically takes that option when he believes his nominee won't garner the 60 votes needed to beat back a filibuster.

The NLRB has been under heavy scrutiny since it issued an April 20 complaint accusing Boeing of retaliating against union workers. That complaint, which has since been dropped, and other board actions this year, such as a proposed rule to speed up union elections, have been heavily lobbied against by business groups and targeted by GOP lawmakers.

Democratic lawmakers and unions have backed the labor board. They argue Republicans should leave the NLRB alone and not interfere with a independent law enforcement agency.

The labor board is about to lose its quorum of three members and thus its ability to issue rulings and regulations. Board Member Craig Becker's recess appointment ends at the end of this year, which will reduce the NLRB to two members.

The GOP senators also said Obama should reject suggestions that he recess appoint Block and Griffin to the labor board during the mandatory adjournment between sessions of Congress, arguing it would "provoke a constitutional conflict."

"We urge you to avoid attempting to give your latest NLRB nominees — Ms. Block and Mr. Griffin — recess appointments at any point, especially during the mandatory adjournment between sessions of the 112th Congress, which will undoubtedly be very brief. While some have publicly suggested doing so would be an appropriate course of action with regard to other nominations, it would, at the very least, set a dangerous precedent that would most certainly be exploited in future cases to further marginalize the Senate’s role in confirming nominees and could needlessly provoke a constitutional conflict between the Senate and the White House," the letter states.

Also on Monday, 11 GOP senators sent a letter to the president asking him to withdraw the nomination of Lafe Solomon, the NLRB's acting general counsel. Solomon is the author of the now withdrawn Boeing complaint.

—Updated at 5:46 p.m.