Yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved President Obama’s most recent nominee to the National Labor Relations Board. Nominee Lauren McFerran has served as the HELP committee’s chief labor counsel since 2010. If her nomination is approved by the full Senate, McFerran will replace current Board member Nancy Schiffer, whose term expires on December 16 of this year.
Unsurprisingly, the HELP Committee voted to approve McFerran’s nomination based on party lines, with 12 Democrats supporting her selection and 10 Republicans opposing it.
In a short statement, Senator Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) praised the President’s nomination of McFerran:
“Ms. McFerran is an extremely well-qualified nominee and I know she will do an excellent job in this important position. I look forward to her consideration by the full Senate,” said Tom Harkin (D., Iowa), the Labor panel’s chairman.
Despite the Senator’s praise for her qualifications, McFerran was not President Obama’s first choice to replace member Schiffer. The President had previously nominated former Board member Sharon Block to step into member Schiffer’s shoes, but withdrew that nomination after Republicans voiced their objections.
Block had previously served on the Board from early 2012 until the middle of 2013 as one of President Obama’s now-infamous recess appointments, which were found to be unconstitutional this past summer.
Now that McFerran has received the thumbs-up from the HELP Committee, her nomination will go before the full Senate for a vote. With Senate Democrats having exercised the so-called “nuclear option” in the summer of 2013, Presidential nominations must now only receive an up-or-down vote, as opposed to the traditional two-thirds approval. Accordingly, labor watchers expect McFerran’s nomination to be approved before the end of the year, provided that Senate Democrats can schedule a vote before the holidays begin.