Yesterday, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) held a hearing concerning Lauren McFerran’s nomination to the National Labor Relations Board. The reader may recall that Ms. McFerran is President Obama’s second choice for this position, with first-choice Sharon Block’s nomination being withdrawn under pressure from Senate Republicans.
Member Nancy Schiffer’s term expires on December 16 of this year, so the President and Senate Democrats are scrambling to fill her seat during the lame-duck session. During the hearing, Senate Dems heaped praise upon McFerran and the Board’s current pro-employee bent:
“It is my hope that by promptly confirming Ms. McFerran’ s nomination to fill the looming vacancy, we can continue the progress that has been made recently, and begin a new era where orderly transitions on the NLRB are the norm,” according to [Senator Tom] Harkin.
Senate Republicans grilled McFerran on several major hot-button issues during the hearing, including her takes on the Northwestern football team’s union vote and the General Counsel’s push to redefine the “joint-employer” test. Without going into specifics, McFerran promised to take a dispassionate look at the issues:
“If the issue were to come before me as a board member, all I can pledge to you is that I would consider it with a very open mind,” she said.
Labor watchers expect that McFerran’s nomination will be sent to the full Senate in the coming weeks. With the “nuclear option” eviscerating Republicans’ ability to block presidential nominees, it is assumed that McFerran will receive a rubber stamp from the full Senate. Stay tuned.