On Wednesday, the Senate HELP Committee voted to advance the nominations of all pending National Labor Relations Board member nominations to the full Senate for confirmation.  Following a hearing, the panel voted unanimously in support of the nominations of Republican appointees Harry I. Johnson, III, and Philip A. Miscimarra; 18-4 in favor of current chairman Democrat Mark Gaston Pearce; and 13-9 in favor of Democrat appointees Sharon Block and Richard Griffin.  Republicans have expressed opposition to the latter two on the basis of their refusal to step aside following the recent federal court decisions declaring their initial January 2012 recess appointments invalid.

Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) celebrated the vote results:

Today’s vote is a step in the right direction. Unless the Senate acts to confirm all five nominees to the NLRB, the Board will effectively shut down in August.  That would be devastating to the workers and businesses that rely on the Board each and every day.  While it is disappointing that some of my Republican colleagues refused to support the entire package of nominees in today’s Committee vote, I hope that as we move to the floor we can put politics aside and do our duty to consider all of these nominees fairly on their own merits.  This is an exceptionally well-qualified package of nominees, and they all deserve to be swiftly confirmed.

While Ranking Member Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) expressed the objection of several Republican members:

I oppose the nominations of Sharon Block and Richard Griffin. I don’t doubt that these two individuals are qualified nominees. The problem is, the president appointed them as so-called recess appointments during a time when the Senate wasn’t in recess … This is a matter of principle. 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.

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) recently indicated he would likely bring the nominations before the full Senate in July, while political allies threaten changes to Senate rules to facilitate their confirmation.

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