Earlier this week, Senate Democrats could not muster the 60 votes necessary to invoke cloture on Craig Becker, the lawyer for the SEIU and AFL-CIO who President Obama nominated to chair the National Labor Relations Board.
While unions had been urging Obama to to appoint Becker during next week’s recess, Obama released a statement last night that appears to rule that out:
[O]n Tuesday, I told Senator McConnell that if Republican senators did not release these holds, I would exercise my authority to fill critically-needed positions in the federal government temporarily through the use of recess appointments. This is a rare but not unprecedented step that many other presidents have taken. Since that meeting, I am gratified that Republican senators have responded by releasing many of these holds and allowing 29 nominees to receive a vote in the Senate.
While this is a good first step, there are still dozens of nominees on hold who deserve a similar vote, and I will be looking for action from the Senate when it returns from recess. If they do not act, I reserve the right to use my recess appointment authority in the future.
Unions are already dismayed by the deal, because the next Senate recess isn’t until March 29. Even if Becker were appointed then, his term would only last until this Congressional session ends, or about nine months. Considering Republicans are currently expected to gain Senate seats, his confirmation is likley to face an even more difficult time next January were Obama to re-nominate him.