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McCain vows to hold up labor board nominee (Click Here)


WASHINGTON — Another Obama administration nominee is facing a GOP roadblock over his ties to labor unions.

Arizona Sen. John McCain said Wednesday he would place a hold on the confirmation of union lawyer Craig Becker to join the National Labor Relations Board, saying Becker might try to make labor laws more union friendly without congressional approval.

McCain made his comments just minutes before a Senate panel voted 15-8 to approve Becker’s nomination. Under Senate rules, a single lawmaker can block a full vote on the Senate floor.

“This is probably the most controversial nominee that I have seen in a long time,” McCain said. His remarks echoed complaints by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and dozens of business groups that claim Becker’s views are “out of the mainstream.”

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, called Becker “one of the pre-eminent labor law thinkers in the United States” and said he was confident Becker would approach the job “with an impartial and open mind.”

Earlier this month, the committee’s top Republican, Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi, placed a hold on Obama’s nominee for the No. 3 post at the Department of Labor. Enzi said Patricia Smith misled lawmakers about her role in creating a New York program that encourages labor unions to help uncover wage-and-hour violations.

While the NLRB is one of the lesser-known federal agencies, its role as referee of conflicts between unions and management makes it a lightning rod for political fights between business interests and organized labor. Political wrangling in the Senate has left the five-member board with three vacancies for nearly two years.

The fight over Becker is an early skirmish in the broader debate over efforts to pass legislation that would make it easier to form unions. The Employee Free Choice Act has stalled in the Senate, but business groups say some of Becker’s writings indicate he would try to implement parts of the bill through board action.

Harkin compared Becker’s law review articles to a professor trying to stimulate broader thinking. He said Becker understands the difference between being “an intellectual advocate” and serving on the board.

The committee on Wednesday cleared two other NLRB nominees — Democrat Mark Pearce and Republican Brian Hayes — by unanimous consent.

Posted by Admin on 10/23 at 02:56 PM