By Edwin S. Hopson
On July 11, 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed cloture on seven nominations including Richard Griffin, Sharon Block and Mark Pearce, all Democrats, to be Members of the National Labor Relations Board. His motion also included Thomas Perez to be Secretary of Labor. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) then asked consent for the Senate to vote on Pearce, and NLRB nominees Harry Johnson and Philip Miscimarra, both of whom are Republican (the Republican Senators’ opposition to Members Griffin and Block centers on the fact that they were recess appointed at a time when Republicans contend the Senate was in session). Reid objected to McConnell’s request setting up a debate over changing the filibuster rules in the Senate, sometimes called the “nuclear option.”
Reid publicly stated that he wants to amend the filibuster rule to exclude the President’s nominations to positions in Executive Departments and Agencies. Reid contends that it takes only 51 Senators to pass such an amendment to the Senate’s rules.
McConnell and other Republican Senators have come out in strong opposition, indicating that if that takes place, the Senate will evolve into a simple majority institution, like the House of Representatives.
The final outcome may not be known until late on July 15 or sometime the next day.
In the meantime, the NLRB and the two recess appointees, Members Griffin and Block, have come to be in the center of what may turn out to be a major crisis in the Senate.