Obama’s power grab over recess appointments

Over the last year, the National Labor Relations Board has rightly riled Republicans and business owners alike due to its suit against Boeing. The suit, which sought to prevent the airline manufacturer from opening a new plant in South Carolina, had support from union thugs bosses and Democrats — including ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but was recently dropped after an agreement was reached; however, the precedent was set.

The damage continued last month as the NLRB forced through new rules that would, as Labor Union Report explains, “[strip] of due process from the minority of employers who challenge the validity of a union’s petitioned-for voting unit.”

Given these controverisal moves, you’d think President Barack Obama would tread carefully in an election year. But in an unprecendented move yesterday, he appointed three new members to the NRLB, bypassing the Senate confirmation process:

President Barack Obama recess-appointed three members to the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday, bypassing fierce opposition from Republicans who claim the agency has leaned too far in favor of unions.
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Obama’s action prevents the board from losing much of its power for the rest of the year. The NLRB is supposed to have five members, but it has operated for months with only three. This week, it is down to just two members, after Democrat Craig Becker completed his term. The agency is not allowed to conduct regular business with only two members.

Senate Republicans, hoping to effectively shut the agency down, had vowed to block any more appointees to prevent any further key decisions affecting labor relations. Last month, all 47 Senate Republicans sent Obama a letter warning that bypassing the Senate would set a dangerous precedent.

Obama, in a prepared statement, said the nation deserves “to have qualified public servants fighting for them every day - whether it is to enforce new consumer protections or uphold the rights of working Americans.”

Labor unions, a bedrock of Democratic political support in this election year, had been pushing the White House to fill the seats.

The Constitution, in Artlcle II, Section 2, provides the president with the power to submit nominations for “Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States.” These nominations are reviewed by the Senate (“advice and consent”) and must be approved by 2/3 of that chamber.

Article II, Section 3 notes that when the Senate is not in session, a president can “to fill up all Vacancies that may happen.” But the Senate would still need to approve the nomination during their next session, otherwise the commission expires upon adjournment.

The problem here is the Senate is still in session. It never formally adjourned for the Christmas break. Obama is essentially picking a fight with Republicans and provoking a legal challenge, and he knows it.

The NLRB appoints are only part of the problem. The White House also appointed Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency that has been given unprecedented regulatory power with no real check on its authority.

As noted, these appointments are likely going to be challenged in court, but the power grab here is concerning since this White House doesn’t believe it can be restrained by the Law of the Land.

 
 


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