President Obama made three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) late last week. Senate Republicans responded by asking for the legal justification of these appointments, since the Senate was in pro forma session.
President Obama’s appointment of Sharon Block, Terence Flynn, and Richard Griffin will allow the board to continue operating. The National Labor Relations Board’s recent actions, including a rule that would allow specific classifications of employees (like nurses or food service employees) to unionize, have been criticized by Republicans in the House and Senate. When NLRB member Craig Becker’s term expired last month, the board was down to two members and no longer had a quorum, which is needed to reach final decisions. Republican senators had vowed to block the confirmation of any new National Labor Relations Board nominees. Sharon Block and Richard Griffin are democrats, and Terence Flynn is a republican.
Republican Senators have asked the U.S. Attorney General whether the Justice Department advised President Obama on these appointments. The Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel has previously stated that presidents cannot make recess appointments during Senate breaks of less than three days. Pro forma sessions have been used in the past to block recess appointments, but White House officials argue that pro forma sessions used solely to block recess appointments should not count as interrupting a recess. Others claim that the administration’s argument is not valid, since Republicans have conducted significant legislative business, including extending the payroll-tax cut and federal unemployment insurance benefits, while in pro forma session.
Read more about President Obama’s recess appointments and the Republicans’ challenge of these appointments. Or learn more about the National Labor Relations Board’s recent actions through ALFA’s new Labor Relations News Feed.
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