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The nominations of William Emanuel and Marvin Kaplan to the NLRB were approved by a Senate committee July 19, setting up a full vote on the floor of the chamber.
The nominations advanced on an expected party-line vote. It’s unclear when a vote by the full Senate on whether to confirm the nominees to the National Labor Relations Board will be scheduled, given the complications of the approaching August recess and the July 19 collapse of Republican efforts to pass a health-care bill.
Kaplan and Emanuel are ultimately expected to be confirmed.
“These nominees are highly qualified and will help ensure a fair playing field in the workplace,” Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in a statement after the hearing. “I urge their swift confirmation by the U.S. Senate.”
Democrats on the committee repeated their objections that the nominees are unfit for the board based on what they characterized as Emanuel’s “anti-worker” record and Kaplan’s lack of experience as a labor practitioner. Ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said she believed Kaplan was confused on “basic” principles of labor law during the nominees’ initial hearing.
Democrats also complained that Republicans have rushed the nominees’ confirmation process and haven’t allowed enough time for questioning to parse out Emanuel’s and Kaplan’s views.
“Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Kaplan are being rushed through at an unprecedented rate for NLRB board nominees,” Murray said. “I wish the committee had been given more time to consider these two nominations.”
Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) declined Sen. Al Franken’s (D-Minn.) request for “some debate on the nominees” before the vote and said he’d listen to the other members’ concerns afterward.
The nominees submitted answers to senators’ questions for the record the day before the July 19 hearing, “giving us only a day to review critical answers as to whether these nominees plan to stand up for workers,” Murray said. Alexander (R-Tenn.) and other Republican members countered by comparing the process with that for previous nominations.
“Recent comparisons show the process is far from rushed,” Alexander said. Kaplan’s nomination has been pending for 29 days and Emanuel’s for 20.
Previous Democratic leadership “held hearings and markups on NLRB nominees with far less time for consideration,” Alexander said, citing the confirmation process for President Barack Obama’s 2013 NLRB nominee, Kent Hirozawa.
Hirozawa’s hearing was held seven days after his nomination and his markup was held the next day. At the time, Obama had made two nominations before Hirozawa, but Republicans didn’t allow those nominees to move forward. Obama nominated Hirozawa and Nancy Schiffer instead once the board was a month away from shutting down because it lacked enough members.
There were also two GOP picks to the board confirmed along with Hirozawa and Schiffer, as part of a political deal to prevent Republicans from using the “nuclear option” in 2013. The nuclear option is a procedure that allows the Senate to override precedents by a simply majority vote.
Committee member Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) urged lawmakers to move forward with the nominations.
“I think we ought to vote on these nominees and have a full board,” Enzi said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Hassan A. Kanu in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
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