Democratic obstruction of Trump appointees is political, not practical

Democratic obstruction of Trump appointees is political, not practical
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Last September, President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice says it will recommend Trump veto FISA bill Fauci: Nominating conventions may be able to go on as planned Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally MORE tapped former U.S. spokesman to the United Nations Richard Grenell to be U.S. ambassador to Germany. Six months later, Grenell — the first openly gay spokesman for a Republican presidential candidate — is still waiting to be confirmed.

He’s not alone. Because of Democratic obstruction, more than two-dozen Trump ambassador nominees still await confirmation, undermining U.S. relationships with South Korea, South Africa, and other foreign countries.

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Even some Democrats are recognizing the ridiculousness of their political posturing. Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsDemocratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Gregory Treverton Congress must fill the leadership void MORE (D-Del.) recently described the slow pace of confirmations as a “significant problem,” admitting the Grenell confirmation has “dragged on far too long.”

Unfortunately, other Democrats have not been so respectful of President Trump’s nominees. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is ground zero. When current NLRB member William Emanuel faced Senate confirmation last year, Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocratic leaders say Trump testing strategy is 'to deny the truth' about lack of supplies Senate votes to reauthorize intel programs with added legal protections The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Zeldin says Congress must help states; Fauci's warning; Dems unveil T bill MORE (D-Wash.) referred to him as “anti-union, anti-worker, and even anti-NLRB.”

His crime? Emanuel worked at the management-side law firm Littler Mendelson.

The hyperbole is supposed to distract from the reality of Emanuel’s qualifications. Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderSenators weigh traveling amid coronavirus ahead of Memorial Day McConnell gives two vulnerable senators a boost with vote on outdoor recreation bill Five unanswered questions on COVID-19 and the 2020 election MORE (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, described Emanuel’s “extensive experience” as an “important asset.” Several trade associations, meanwhile, praised his “balanced approach.”

It’s time to recognize Democratic obstructionism for what it is: A partisan attempt to maintain the pro-union status quo that guided the Obama-era NLRB for years. Under President Obama, NLRB members churned out dozens of rulings designed to bolster union organizing, overturning 4,559 years of legal precedent in the process.

The examples are numerous. With its 2011 Specialty Healthcare decision, the NLRB enabled labor unions to divide an employer’s workforce into so-called “micro-unions,” allowing union officials to organize a workplace piece by piece. In 2016, the NLRB ruled that Columbia University graduate students are employees and therefore have the right to unionize — paving the way for unionized colleges and universities across the country.

Perhaps most importantly, the Obama NLRB’s Browning-Ferris decision made franchisors responsible for the employment actions of all local franchisees, threatening the franchise business model that has created 770,000 small businesses. The ruling classified franchisors as “joint employers,” forcing franchisees to face higher costs and assume more risk.

Last December, Emanuel’s NLRB wisely reversed the joint employer ruling, only to vacate the reversal after Senate Democrats once again raised “conflict of interest” concerns.

Such obstructionism is the height of hypocrisy. Democrats raised no objections when former NLRB member Craig Becker, who made his career representing the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and other unions, declined to recuse himself from hot-button labor cases where his former clients were involved. Becker justified his decision by saying “the President is entitled to appoint individuals to be Members of the Board who share his or her views.”

Apparently, the same standard doesn’t apply if the president’s last name is Trump.

It’s not just Democrats who are being unreasonable. The NLRB’s Inspector General, David Berry, has his own inconsistencies to answer for. The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial earlier this month, noted the unworkable conflict of interest standard that Berry wants to apply to Emanuel, whereby he’d be unable to work on any case where a former client might be indirectly impacted by the outcome.

Berry declined to apply this same standard to Craig Becker. As the Journal wrote, the “Berry standard seems to be that board members from business are conflicted at the NLRB but those who worked for unions aren’t.” If Democrats and the Inspector General are looking for something real to investigate, they might look to board member Mark Gaston Pearce’s alleged leak of a pending NLRB decision at an American Bar Association meeting.

The “resistance” is inflamed by anti-Trump union officials who feel threatened by an NLRB less tilted in their favor. Not surprisingly, the anti-Emanuel brigade is led by union lawyers such as David Rosenfeld, a partner at a pro-union California law firm who has been condemned by a bipartisan NLRB.

As Democratic obstruction continues into spring 2018, it’s important to understand the ulterior motives at play. Union sympathizers like Murray, and Rosenfeld are not really concerned about alleged “conflict of interest.” They’re just apparently bitter that the tide has turned.

Gregory T. Angelo is the president of Log Cabin Republicans, the country's premier organization representing LGBT conservatives and straight allies.