Monday, December 28, 2009

Becker's Nomination "Referred Back" to White House

NLRB The Washington Post is reporting that Craig Becker's nomination to the NLRB (among five other nominees to different agencies) was "referred back to the White House for reconsideration."  It's unclear to me how significant this move is.  The Post includes the six under a list of nominees who were "rejected," but it appears that they could be renominated, based on the following quote:

No formal vote was taken, but the six nominees who were "returned to the White House" for reconsideration and possible renomination "ran into opposition," said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader  Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

If anyone else has a better idea of what's going on or what might happen, please post a comment or e-mail me.  Given that the NLRB nominees are usually packaged together you wouldn't expect this to be the end of Becker's nomination, but who knows.  If his nomination is gone, it might spell trouble for the rest of the nominees.  And if that happened, then the two-member Board issue only gets more relevant.


Thanks to Rebecca Hamburg and Russ Runkel for filling in more info.  It seems that the problem is Sen. McCain's hold on Becker's nomination.  Under Senate rules, nominations not acted on at the end of a session essentially "die" and can't be acted on again unless they are formally renominated.  However, the Senate can adopt a unanimous consent agreement that waives this rule and permits further action without renomination.  But the Senate refused to do so with Becker and the others.  The upshot is that Becker could get renominated, but unless there's a way to break McCain's hold on him it may not matter.

Hat Tip:  Barry Hirsch


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While he, and the other six, could be renominated or made recess appointees, what this means is that the Senate leadership does not think they can be confirmed or, in the alternative, can only be confirmed with the expenditure of significant time and effort by the Senate and the President. If renominated they would start from scratch, with the relevant committee once again having to vote the nominee out and then find time for a floor vote, assuming there are no holds.

Posted by: dmh | Dec 28, 2009 8:21:32 AM

The article certainly isn't clear as to whether those six failed to get a majority or whether they were by some maneuver pulled from the process before the vote. I assume it's the latter because then Senate doesn't return a rejected nominee to the president after a vote, although the President could always resubmit the nomination.

"Returned to the White House" could therefore be a tactful way of telling the President the votes aren't there. That allows the nominee to withdraw from consideration rather than be rejected on a formal vote. That happens with some controversial nominations in every administration, although I've never seen it described in the terms the Post uses. In this case, I know there has been substantial opposition to Dawn Johnson (nominated to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel) and Louis Butler (nominated to the E.D. of Wisconsin)as well as to Becker, and presume there has been opposition to the other three as well. (I don't know the merits of that opposition and express no view on it.)

If this really is a tactful rejection of Becker it shouldn't endanger the other NLRB nominees. Becker was simply the lightning rod in that package. I'd expect the White House to replace him with someone less controversial but likely to vote the same way, at which point the whole package would go through.

Posted by: Dennis Nolan | Dec 28, 2009 8:53:51 AM

Take a look at my blog article on the subject of Craig Becker's nomination:

Posted by: Edwin Hopson | Dec 28, 2009 11:52:00 AM

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