Senate Avoids "Nuclear Option" with Deal on Presidential Nominees

The U.S. Senate avoided pushing through unprecedented, historic changes to the chamber’s long-standing procedural rules as Democrats and Republicans reached a last-minute agreement to advance pending presidential nominations.
Current rules require 60 Senators to agree before the Senate may move forward on most legislation or nominations.  Invoking the filibuster and unwilling to advance controversial nominees to key posts, Republicans drew the ire of their Democrat colleagues who claimed the minority party’s stalling tactics were purely political – prompting Majority Leader Harry Reid’s threat to change the rules to require a simple majority of 51 votes to advance the Obama Administration’s picks. For Republicans, allowing two current members to be reconfirmed to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after several courts had deemed them to be unconstitutionally appointed was simply unacceptable.
As part of the deal, Republicans agreed to allow five nominees – including Tom Perez as Labor Secretary and Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – to be confirmed in exchange for the withdrawal of the contentious NLRB members. Shortly after pulling Sharon Block and Richard Griffin from consideration, President Obama announced their replacements as Nancy Schiffer and Kent Hirozawa. Schiffer is the associate general counsel at the AFL-CIO and has been an ardent supporter of “card check,” while Hirozawa is the chief counsel to current NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce. Majority Leader Reid has indicated that confirmation hearings will be held by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions as early as next week.

IEC is pleased that the illegally serving appointees to the NLRB have been withdrawn and that democracy has been preserved in the Senate rules. While we do have strong concerns and many questions for the new NLRB nominees, IEC looks forward to seeing them addressed in committee hearings as they are properly vetted through the Senate confirmation process.