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NLRB?s ?Recess? Appointees Didn?t Even Get a Committee Vote

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Unread 01.05.12, 01:56 PM
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NLRB?s ?Recess? Appointees Didn?t Even Get a Committee Vote

On 01.05.12 01:54 PM posted by Lachlan Markay

President Obama has invoked alleged congressional gridlock as justification for his controversial “recess” appointments of a handful of federal officials on Wednesday, repeatedly invoking his “We Can’t Wait” slogan. But an examination of the appointments belies that excuse.

Three of the officials, a Republican and two Democratic nominees to the National Labor Relations Board, never even received a committee hearing, let alone a cloture vote. In other words, the Senate never got a chance to obstruct; the president decided to preemptively circumvent the Senate’s advice and consent duties altogether.

The three officials in question are Sharon Block, Terence Flynn and Richard Griffin, each of whom will fill an empty spot on the NLRB.

Nominations for Block and Griffin, both Democrats, were submitted to the Senate Health Education Labor and Pension Committee on December 15. The Senate entered pro forma session the next day, with most members returning to their home states after only a day to review the nominations.

Neither Griffin nor Block had even submitted the required paperwork to the committee. That paperwork includes a background check, “which addresses whether taxes are paid and if the nominee is facing any pending civil or criminal investigations,” according to the committee. “This also ensures that there are no conflicts-of-interest before being confirmed for the position.”

Committee spokesman Joe Brenckle told Scribe that members had not expressed their views on those nominations for the simple reason that they had not had a chance to undergo the normal vetting procedures. In other words, there is no evidence that the committee – let alone the full Senate – would have blocked those nominations even if they had come up for a vote.

Terence Flynn, the Republican nominee, was tapped in January 2011, but the committee had not yet held a hearing, let alone a vote, on the nomination.

So not only had Senators not obstructed the process, they had not even been given sufficient information to take positions on the three nominees – especially the two Democrats.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), who chairs the HELP committee, lauded the president’s move, saying he “acted responsibly” in appointing the three officials. The ranking Republican, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), was not so kind, insisting in a statement that Obama had “ignored the Senate’s confirmation and vetting process.”

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