The two Democrats that President Barack Obama appointed to the National Labor Relations Board during what he considered a congressional “recess” are not on the White House’s official list of Obama’s appointments and nominations for various positions.
Obama referred his two Democratic nominees, Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, to the Senate on Dec. 15. The Senate adjourned for the year — but did not go into an official recess — on the following day.
WhiteHouse.gov tracks the status of all of Obama’s appointments and nominations. Block and Griffin do not appear on that list — a sign that the administration rushed the recess appointments through too quickly for the Senate to even consider them.
“It’s hard to argue that the Senate was obstructing these Democratic nominees when they don’t even appear on the administration’s own list of nominations and appointments,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce labor policy specialist Glenn Spencer told The Daily Caller.
The Republican member Obama recess-appointed to the NLRB, Terence F. Flynn, does show up on the White House list. His nomination was referred to the Senate months ago.
Wyoming Republican Sen. Mike Enzi’s office has pointed out that Block and Griffin were referred to the Senate so quickly that they didn’t pass basic criminal and civil background checks. A statement from Enzi, the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said that the background checks ensure that no criminal investigations are pending against potential nominees, and that they have paid their income taxes. The checks also ensure nominees don’t have conflicts of interest.
When a reporter asked White House press secretary Jay Carney about the scant amount of time between the nominations and the recess appointments, he balked. Instead of addressing the constitutional requirement of allowing the Senate advice and consent on presidential nominations, Carney attacked Congress.
“Any doubt about the Senate’s intention, or the Republicans in the Senate’s intention of allowing any nominee to come forward can be,” Carney said Thursday, “was demonstrated by the fact that they wouldn’t even allow the Republican nominee to get to a committee vote so — who had been there for almost a year.”
Carney added that though Obama did not give Congress a chance to act, Obama wanted to pre-empt the Senate. Carney said the president was asuming, based on senators’ past statements, that they would stall additional nominations.
“So the President acted because Congress wouldn’t, and it was clear that Congress wouldn’t — and numerous senators have made clear they won’t,” Carney said. “And we have to have that: These independent agencies exist for a reason, and the president believed that it was essential to make sure that that agency could function.”
Block was the deputy assistant secretary for congressional affairs inside Obama’s Department of Labor, and once worked for the late Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy. Griffin was a lawyer for labor unions including the AFL-CIO and the International Union of Operating Engineers.
Flynn is a Republican lawyer specializing in the National Labor Relations Act, the law the NLRB is tasked with enforcing.