Trump’s Labor Board Nominees On The Cusp Of Confirmation After Committee Vote

Ted Goodman | Reporter

President Donald Trump’s two nominees for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) passed out of committee Wednesday, bringing the president one step closer to having a Republican-controlled NLRB for the first time in 10 years.

In votes that fell down party lines, William Emanuel and Marvin Kaplan were approved by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP), where they now await confirmation by the Senate at large.

The NLRB is an independent federal agency created to enforce the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which set labor standards for American workers in 1934. The NLRB has had two vacancies on its five-person board — one has remained vacant for 23 months, and the other for 11.

Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, who chairs the committee, urged members to rise above partisan divisions to confirm the two Republican nominees. “The last thing we need here in Washington or across the country is more rancor, more division, more ideology at a time that we need this board fully functioning,” Alexander said Wednesday.

Democratic Sens. Al Franken of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts would not oblige.

Franken took the opportunity to attack Emanuel for failing to give him the answer he was looking for during a confirmation hearing last week. Franken was insulted by what he described as evasive behavior, and accused Emanuel of deliberately failing to answer his questions.

“We deserve a little respect here,” Franken said. “That when we ask questions to witnesses that they not pretend to not hear what we’re saying.”

Warren also slammed Emanuel for spending decades at Littler Mendelson and other law firms that she characterized as some of the most notorious union-busting firms around. After the hearing, Warren took to Twitter to further air her grievances.

“Appeasing Big Labor is clearly a higher priority for Sen. Warren than supporting individuals who are committed to spurring job creation and helping Americans get back to work,” Jeremy Adler, communications director with the Republican firm America Rising Squared, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Much to her chagrin, these nominees will reform the NLRB so that it no longer stands in the way of growth and opportunity for workers across the country.”

If the two men are confirmed by the Senate, which is widely expected, the NLRB is expected to roll back Obama-era policies seen as favorable to big labor and former President Barack Obama’s union allies.

Emanuel, currently with Littler Mendelson, is a veteran labor lawyer. He is a member of the influential Federalist Society, which has advised the president on a number of key issues, including the selection of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Kaplan, who Trump announced in June, is currently counsel at the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. He has previously worked for Republican lawmakers as an attorney for the education and oversight committees.

The business community, including the National Restaurant Association, support the two nominees.

“Marvin Kaplan and William Emanuel will restore balance and fairness to the National Labor Relations Board,” Cicely Simpson, executive vice president of the National Restaurant Association, said. “The Board is currently reviewing extremely important issues, including joint employment liability, that impact restaurants and other small businesses, and we urge swift confirmation of these qualified nominees.”

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