Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has introduced a bill that would expand the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from five members to six. Currently, the president appoints five board members with the “advice and consent of the Senate.” By law, two board members must be from the political party other than the president’s.
Proponents of the NLRB Reform Act believe the board has been actively pro-union since President Obama’s election and hope the legislation will transform it from “an advocate to an umpire,” according to a statement by Alexander. Opponents believe an even political split on the board will inevitably result in repeated tie votes, ensuring that no decisions are rendered on matters coming before the NLRB.
Under Alexander’s bill, now being considered by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the NLRB would have six members, three Democrats and three Republicans. Members would be “appointed by the President, after consultation with the leader of the Senate representing the party opposing the party of the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.”
Board appointments have been an ongoing source of conflict between the White House and Senate Republicans, with filibuster threats repeatedly bottling up appointments and the president attempting recess appointments that the Supreme Court later ruled unconstitutional.
Don’t expect the acrimony to end soon. Even if passed, Alexander’s bill will likely fall victim to an Obama veto.