Alexander: Nominations Agreement “Allows Senate to Make Clear that This President, or Any President, Cannot Thumb His Nose at Senate’s Constitutional Role”

Under agreement, White House will submit two new NLRB member nominations to replace two nominees serving unconstitutionally

WASHINGTON, July 16—The senior Republican on the U.S. Senate committee on labor policy today released the following statement on the agreement reached by Senate leadership and the White House that the administration will send two new nominees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), replacing Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, Jr.:

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R. Tenn) said: “This is the suggestion I offered in the HELP committee in May, that the president send us two new members to replace those that he had unconstitutionally appointed when he used his recess authority while the Senate was not in recess. This agreement allows the Senate to make clear that this president, or any president, cannot thumb his nose at the Senate’s constitutional role in our system of checks and balances.” 

Under the agreement, the White House will submit two new NLRB Member nominations shortly. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee has already scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m. on July 23 on the two new nominees. 

President Obama appointed Block and Griffin to the labor board on January 4, 2012, claiming recess appointment powers at a time the Senate was in session. The nominations had been pending before the Senate HELP Committee for just 20 days. A federal court ruled earlier this year that those appointments were unconstitutional, but Block and Griffin have continued to serve.

In a Senate HELP Committee vote May 22 on five nominees to the NLRB, Alexander opposed the nominations of Block and Griffin, saying “they have continued to serve, even though the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has said their service is constitutionally invalid.” The unconstitutional NLRB members have decided 1,039 cases, 335 of which came after that ruling found their appointments invalid.  All of these decisions are subject to be vacated. 

Alexander said on May 22: “By recess-appointing NLRB members at a time when the Senate was actually in session, the president has shown a troubling disrespect for the Constitution, and the two members who continued to serve after the Appellate Court, which hears most NLRB cases, decided that they were unconstitutionally appointed, shows that same lack of respect.”

Alexander continued: “I think we all agree that we’d like to see a functioning board, and a full board. We don’t have that now. We have an invalid board, according to two federal appellate courts. …The better path would be for them to step aside, since they are invalidly appointed, and for the president to nominate two others, and for us to go forward. I’m going to vote for three nominees today—that’s a quorum—and we can have two more nominees fairly quickly.”

On February 13, Alexander called on Block and 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.”

In April, Alexander introduced legislation that would prohibit the NLRB 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.

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