House Republicans have been in talks with their counterparts in the Senate about blocking President Obama from filling two upcoming vacancies to the National Labor Relations Board through recess appointments, which would leave the body deadlocked with just two members, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., said on Thursday.
“The major flaw here is that the board is grotesquely imbalanced," Kline, chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, told reporters after a hearing about the NLRB's new proposed rules to speed up union elections.
Right now, Democrats on the board outnumber Republicans by 3-to-1, but the terms of two Democrats will expire by the end of the year, including that of the recess-appointed former union lawyer Craig Becker. If the vacancies are left unfilled, it would mean the board would be deadlocked at 1-to-1 and unable to impose sweeping new rules on businesses and workers.
Over the Memorial Day recess, President Obama was thwarted from making recess appointments because Republicans forced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from holding "pro forma" sessions every three days while they were on break.
The issue will likely become elevated in August when Congress is set to break for its month-long summer recess.
If Senate Republicans refuse to grant a unanimous consent request to recess, it would force Reid to hold a potentially embarassing vote to adjourn. Further, under the U.S. Constitution, the Senate needs the approval of the House to adjourn, meaning the Republican-controlled chamber has the power to effectively block recess appointments.
Kline said he was in talks with collegues in the Senate about ways to thwart the NLRB's pro-union agenda, including through legislation and stoping recess appointments.
“We are prepared to exercise everything in a toolbox," he said.