Washington Examiner: Lamar Alexander jabs Democrats over NLRB picks

Posted on July 14, 2017

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., jabbed at his Democratic colleagues Thursday for their opposition to President Trump's nominees to filling the two remaining open seats on the National Labor Relations Board, the main federal labor law enforcement agency.

Alexander read aloud comments the Democrats made four years ago during President Obama's administration that called quick confirmation of board nominees as important to the nation's economy.

"We need a full board. And I'm certainly not the only one who thinks so," Alexander said during during a Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing according to his prepared remarks. "Senator [Tammy] Baldwin [D-Wis.] said at a hearing on May 16, 2013, 'I strongly support a fully functiong NLRB with five members. I think confirming the entire slate will ensure that the NLRB is working for American workers and American employers.'"

Alexander also quoted Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., saying at the same hearing, "We need this board fully functioning. ... Any senator who is standing in the way of getting five people confirmed and having a functioning board has a lot of explaining to do."

The nominees, lawyers Marvin Kaplan and William Emanuel, would give the five-member board, the main federal labor law enforcement agency, a 3-2 Republican majority for the first time since President Bush's administration.

Kaplan is currently chief counsel of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, a federal agency. Emanuel is a shareholder with Littler Mendelson, a management-side law firm that specializes in labor matters, often before the NLRB. The nominees will appear Thursday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Ranking minority member Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., didn't acknowledge Alexander's remarks or her Democratic colleagues' prior position on the nominations. She made clear that Democrats no longer thought that ensuring a fully-functioning five-member board was the most important factor in considering nominations.

Instead, Murray expressed concern that the hearing had been "rushed" and said the nominee's records raised serious concerns, suggesting that their attitudes were "contrary to the mission" of the board.