US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Alexander Introduces Legislation to Prohibit NLRB from Issuing Decisions with “Quorum of One”

Introduces with 11 cosponsors companion bill to House-passed legislation introduced by Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.)

Friday, April 26, 2013Liz Wolgemuth 202-228-4729

Washington, D.C., April 27 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, along with 11 Republican cosponsors, today introduced a bill to end the stream of decisions and regulations issued by what Alexander calls an invalid National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) “quorum of one,” as the other individuals’ presence at the board was ruled by a federal court to be unconstitutional.

Alexander said: “The NLRB has just one member today—just one Senate-confirmed, constitutional member—so it has no quorum. Allowing these individuals to issue invalid decisions and regulations will only threaten the rights of American workers, the very people the board is intended to protect.”  

The bill, Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations, is an identical Senate companion to H.R. 1120, which was introduced by Congressman Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and passed the House on April 12.

The legislation would prohibit the National Labor Relations Board from taking any action that requires a quorum until the board members constituting the quorum have been confirmed by the Senate, the Supreme Court issues a decision on the constitutionality of the appointments to the board made in January 2012, or the first session of the 113th Congress is adjourned.

Since January’s federal court ruling that the alleged appointments were invalid, the Board has issued 44 published decisions and 113 unpublished decisions and orders. 

The bill is cosponsored by 11 Republican senators, including Sens Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and James Risch (R-Idaho).

On February 13, Alexander called on Sharon Block and Richard Griffin to “leave the board,” after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in January ruled their appointments to the NLRB by President Obama during a so-called “recess” session of the United States Senate were unconstitutional. 

In March, with 17 cosponsors, he introduced a budget amendment to defund decisions and regulations made by the unconstitutional NLRB “quorum.”

The NRLB has traditionally made major policy changes and interpretations only with the affirmative votes of at least three board members, typically from a full five-member board.  Yet, even with unconstitutionally recess-appointed board members, the Board continues to issue decisions overruling well-established precedent and replacing it with new policy that is favored by the administration’s supporters. 

When the president made the so-called recess appointments in January 2012, Alexander made a speech on the floor of the Senate, saying: “The administration has shown disregard for possibly the best-known and most important role of the Senate – its power of advice and consent of executive and judicial nominations as outlined in Article 2, Section 2, of the Constitution.”

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