Confirmation hearing set for invalidated member of labor board

A former member of the National Labor Relations Board whose appointment was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court will be reconsidered for her old position during a confirmation hearing this month.

A hearing to consider Sharon Block for an upcoming vacancy on the labor board is scheduled for next Tuesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) announced Tuesday.

ADVERTISEMENT

The hearing comes more than two years after President Obama sought to install Block and two other nominees to the NLRB with his recess appointment powers. The move defied Senate Republicans, who opposed the nominations and accused Obama of overstepping his authority.

The fight culminated this summer with a blockbuster Supreme Court decision concluding that Obama violated the Constitution with the appointments. 

In the aftermath of the rebuke, Obama promptly re-nominated Block for a position expected to be vacant in December, with the departure of current board member Nancy J. Schiffer. 

Schiffer’s exit would leave the five-member NLRB with two Republican members and two Democrats. Block’s confirmation is seen as crucial in shaping the direction of the influential board in the last years of the Obama administration. 

Her confirmation appears likely, given Senate rule changes approved via the so-called “nuclear option” that allow most presidential nominations to advance with a simple majority.

While Obama would lose that luxury if Republicans take control of the Senate this November, observers have suggested Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would ensure Block’s confirmation with a final vote in an ensuing lame-duck session, if necessary.