Senate (not much) HELP Committee Votes on Becker

As a follow-up to last night’s post, SEIU attorney Craig Becker’s confirmation is organized labor’s “highest priority.”

Earlier today, the Senate HELP Committee voted along party lines (13-10) to approve the SEIU’s President Obama’s nominee to the National Labor Relations Board. 

As the NAM’s Carter Wood notes:

Ranking Member Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) detailed his opposition to the anti-employer views of Becker, an SEIU associate counsel, and questioned the Senate’s rush to approve controversial, labor-backed nominees before Scott Brown of Massachusetts could be seated as a Senator.

Enzi supported Becker’s nomination at an October 2009 markup as part of a package that included Buffalo law labor Mark Pearce and Brian Hayes, a Republican staffer on the HELP Committee. The Senator’s opposition signals united Republican opposition and makes Becker’s confirmation much less likely in the full Senate because Brown will be sworn in before a cloture vote. [Emphasis added.]

According to the Hill:

A spokesman for Enzi said it was unclear whether Republicans would follow through with a filibuster of Becker’s nomination, though opposition to him remains strong among party members.

On Becker’s nomination, HELP Committee Chairman (and big labor buddy) Tom Harkin (D-IA) stated:

“As you are all aware, I’m a supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act, and I hope to see it passed by Congress and signed into law by the President.  But I don’t have any illusions that those important changes can somehow be accomplished administratively, and neither does Craig Becker.

“He has clearly and consistently explained, on numerous occasions, that all three major reforms proposed in EFCA—card check, binding arbitration for first contracts, and treble backpay for illegally fired workers—cannot be accomplished without a change in the statute.  And as we all know, statutes can only be amended by those of us elected to Congress, not Executive Branch appointees. 

“Mr. Becker is on the record about all of this.  We could not have a more extensive record of where Mr. Becker stands.  But now we’ve gotten 144 more written questions that my Republican colleagues have submitted, largely covering similar ground.  That’s more than 420 written questions total.  200 more written questions than were submitted to Justice Sotomayor during her confirmation hearings, and she was seeking a lifetime appointment!  That’s when I start to wonder whether these questions are legitimate inquiries, or just tactics for delay.

“So while Mr. Becker is diligently answering these additional questions, and expects to have more answers available soon, it is time for this Committee to move forward.” 

While Scott Brown’s early arrival in Washington may aid the Republicans in blocking Becker, it is still possible for President Obama to appoint Becker as a “recess appointment.” 

If this occurs, this will only serve to delegitimize Craig Becker’s role on the Board, as well as the NLRB itself.


“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

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