Labor board nominees pass to full Senate

President Obama’s nominees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have passed through a Senate committee and are on their way to the full chamber.

Kent Hirozawa and Nancy Schiffer are speeding through the confirmation process, just a week after being nominated to the board under terms of a deal to avert a change to Senate filibuster rules and allow other executive branch posts to be filled.

Hirozawa and Schiffer were reported out of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on a 13-9 vote. All Democrats voted in favor of the nominees, as did Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Three other nominees to the board are currently pending before the full Senate. If all five are confirmed, it would mark the first time that the labor board will have a full slate of Senate-confirmed members in a decade.

“It’s long past time for the board to have a full slate of members, so I’m glad that we’re moving these nominees forward in a timely manner,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the committee's chairman. “I look forward to approving all five pending NLRB nominees on the floor before the board loses their quorum in August.”

If new members are not confirmed by the end of August, the board would lose much of its power.

The full Senate vote is expected next week. 

Unions have backed the nominations, and in a statement after the vote, the Communication Workers of America said that full confirmation “will be welcome news to workers who know that the Board is the only agency that enforces the law and safeguards their rights on the job."

President Obama nominated Hirozawa and Schiffer as part of a deal to assure confirmation of his other nominees to lead the Labor Department, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Republicans agreed not to filibuster those selections if Obama withdrew the nominations of two current NLRB members, Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, Jr., who federal courts have ruled were unconstitutionally appointed to their posts in 2012.

Under the terms of the agreement, Republicans have also pledged not to filibuster the new NLRB nominees.