As expected, following its hearing yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee approved the nomination of Richard Griffin to become General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board by a largely party-line vote, 13-9. According to press accounts, HELP Committee Chair Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) asserted that the "abundantly qualified" Mr. Griffin’s confirmation by the full Senate is the "final step" to get the NLRB running at full strength.
While the Committee’s approval clears the path for consideration by the full Senate, it is not clear when the confirmation vote will be held. It is equally unclear the extent to which Mr. Griffin’s confirmation may or may not be part of the July 2013 "nuclear option compromise" which led to the relatively prompt and unobstructed confirmation of five Board Members. A piece in Law360 ($$) this morning notes both the lingering resentment and partisan opposition amongst GOP Senators arising out of Mr. Griffin’s earlier unlawful appointment to the Board, and that the legal controversies continuing to swirl around the tenure of Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon, would both be expected to play a role in this confirmation battle.
In recognition of the fact that Mr. Griffin’s nomination was going to be reported favorably out of Committee, Ranking Member Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) took the opportunity to criticize the increasing politicization of the Board:
I am going to be looking for long-term solutions on a restructuring of the National Labor Relations Board that will ensure that it is more likely to be an umpire and an adjudicator rather than an advocate, whether the president is a Democrat or a Republican.
I’ve expressed here before my concern about the ability of the National Labor Relations Board to be a fair adjudicator—an umpire rather than advocate. That didn’t start with the Obama administration, but it’s gotten worse with this administration as it has moved toward the side of union advocacy with such things as ambush elections and micro-unions and undermining state right-to-work laws.