Obama names new labor board members
By James O’Toole and Chris Isidore @CNNMoney January 4, 2012: 5:52 PM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The White House announced Wednesday that President Obama plans to appoint three new members to the National Labor Relations Board, continuing his end-run around the Congressional approval process.
The White House said in a statement that Obama has tapped Sharon Block, Terence Flynn and Richard Griffin to fill seats on the board via recess appointments.
The NLRB, which is supposed to be governed by a five-member board, is down to three active members because Senate Republicans have opposed Obama’s nominees. And one member, Craig Becker, will see his term end at the conclusion of the current session of Congress.
That’s a problem, because the NLRB requires a three-member quorum to do anything, like set rules or consider a complaint. President Obama has made four nominations in the last two years, none of whom have come up for a confirmation vote in the Senate.
Obama originally nominated Flynn last January, and named Block and Griffin in December.
Wednesday’s announcement came on the same day that Obama revealed plans to appoint Richard Cordray to be the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have criticized Obama’s recess appointments as legally dubious. Since May, Republicans have been using a little-known procedure to keep the Senate in session — even when it hasn’t really been conducting any business — in an attempt to stop the president from making recess appointments.
“[W]hat the President did today sets a terrible precedent that could allow any future President to completely cut the Senate out of the confirmation process,” McConnell said in a statement Wednesday.
Obama countered that Americans “deserve to have qualified public servants fighting for them every day – whether it is to enforce new consumer protections or uphold the rights of working Americans.”
“We can’t wait to act to strengthen the economy and restore security for our middle class and those trying to get in it,” he said in a statement.
The typically low-profile NLRB has become a political hot potato since Obama took office, with Republicans charging that it’s too beholden to union interests and is hurting job creation.