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Education & Labor Committee Republicans

Contact: Press Office (202) 226-9440
House Republicans Investigate President’s Controversial Recess Appointments

Last week, the Obama administration once again put politics ahead of the American people by announcing three recess appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) at a time when the U.S. Senate was not actually in recess.

As the Wall Street Journal proclaimed:

Eager to pick a fight with Congress as part of his re-election campaign, Mr. Obama did the Constitutional equivalent of sticking a thumb in its eye and hitting below the belt. ...

These appointments are brazen enough that they have the smell of a deliberate, and politically motivated, provocation. Recall the stories over the New Year's weekend, clearly planted by the White House, that Mr. Obama planned to make a campaign against Congress the core of his re-election drive. One way to do that is to run roughshod over the Senate's advice and consent power and dare the Members to stop him.

Not surprisingly, the president’s abuse of power has caused a sharp response from members of Congress and the public, with many questioning the consequences and constitutionality of the president’s action.

For example, the controversial appointments will cast a shadow of doubt and uncertainty over employers at a difficult time for our nation’s economy:

“My problem with it is I think there’s going to be a cloud over whatever they do,” said Dennis Devaney, a former NLRB board member and now a lawyer in Detroit. “…Anything they do is going to be subject to being undone, because they didn’t have the authority to act.” …

With NLRB now dominated by Mr. Obama’s appointees, the American business community fears the pressure could intensify.

The president’s unilateral action means the appointees will never participate in the Senate’s normal vetting process intended to protect the objectivity and integrity of the NLRB.  The board’s decisions impact virtually every private workplace in the country, and employers and workers are now wondering whether these federal officials are qualified to serve.

In an effort to gather the facts on the new board members, Chairman Kline and Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) sent a letter to the NLRB requesting documents to better understand the background and qualifications of the appointees. The committee leaders also sent a letter to the White House Counsel asking for documents surrounding the president’s legal authority to grant recess appointments while the Senate is in session.

Upon sending the letters, Chairman Kline stated, “Not one nominee received a public hearing in the Democratic-controlled Senate, let alone a vote. Senate Democrats failed to do their job, and if the president continues to use their failure as an excuse to abuse his power then House Republicans will take action. The American people deserve answers. The documents and information requested by the committee will help inform Congress and the public whether these individuals are qualified to serve on the board.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will continue to hold the NLRB accountable to the American people. It remains to be seen whether Democrats on Capitol Hill and the administration will renounce their political favors to Big Labor and join our efforts to put our nation’s workers and employers first.

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