The U.S. Senate is set to vote on the nomination of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) today — if the vote is not again postponed by the break in global warming plaguing the Washington, D.C. area. (After enduring over 30 inches of snow in some areas over the weekend, metropolitan D.C. is bracing for another snowstorm today with some predictions as high as an additional foot of snow on the ground by Wednesday.)
As of deadline, the vote remained scheduled for tonight at five o’clock p.m.
Becker, another controversial Obama nominee, is currently serving as an attorney and strategist for the SEIU and the AFL-CIO. You remember the SEIU, of course. Those were the purple-shirted union thugs assaulting townhall attendees back in August. Now the Obama administration wants to put the SEIU in the NLRB where it will be able to do the most damage.
Big Labor thinks that they can win in the NLRB what even the Democratic congress hasn’t been able to deiver: their “card check” bill — which goes by the Orwellian name “Employee Free Choice Act” (EFCA) that would strip employees of their right to a secret ballot when deciding whether to unionize their workplace. It would also force unfair, binding arbitration on employers. EFCA is so unpopular that it lacked the votes to pass Congress even before the Scott Brown election.
In Becker’s writings, he casts serious doubt on his ability to in any way serve as an impartial member of the labor board, having stated “employers should have no legally sanctioned role in union elections,” that “employers should be stripped of any legally cognizable interest in their employees’ election of representatives” and that “the law leaves the board discretion to determine the appropriate parties to hearings in representation cases. It should exercise this discretion by specifying that the only parties to both pre- and post-election hearings are employees and the unions seeking to represent them.”
I spoke yesterday with Katie Packer, executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute, a group that educates voters on issues affecting the workplace.
“This is a guy whose own comments have been quite radical in saying that employers shouldn’t have any voice in whether or how their work force is unionized,” Packer told HUMAN EVENTS.
Packer said that she was unaware of any Republican Senator who supports Becker’s nomination.
At least one Democrat in serious re-election trouble has peeled away from the controversial nominee. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) announced his opposition to cloture that would end debate on the nomination, saying “previous statements strongly indicate that [Becker] would take an aggressive personal agenda to the NLRB.”
Nelson also said he would vote against the nomination if the 60-vote margin for cloture is reached. Perhaps Big Labor should offer to foot the bill for a portion of Nebraska’s Medicaid bill.
Murtha’s Death Leaves Health Care Passage in Question
Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) died yesterday due to complications resulting from gall bladder surgery. First elected to Congress in 1974, Murtha has held the House seat for over 36 years. He was 77 years old.
When a House seat becomes vacant, the U.S. Constitution Article I, Section 2, Clause 4 establishes that the seat must be filled by an election:
“When Vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.”
There is no Constitutional provision for appointment to fill a vacant House seat. Pennsylvania state law dictates the announcement of a special election within 10 days of a confirmed vacancy, with a minimum of 60 days passage before the election can be held.
The Pennsylvania primary elections are scheduled for May 18 and would present the most likely (and least expensive) vehicle to fill the seat until the November elections are held.
In the wake of the announcement of Murtha’s passing, the Cook Political Report moved the race into the “toss-up” column. The district began to lean back toward Republicans in the last presidential election, taken by John Kerry in 2004 but going to John McCain in 2008.
The likelihood of a government takeover of health care in the short term is also greatly diminished by Murtha’s unexpected death. The House bill passed by a vote of 220-215 in September of last year. Two of those “yes” votes have since announced they will not vote in favor of passage of the Senate-passed bill. The gutting of the ban on government funding for abortion on demand has turned at minimum Reps. Bart Stupak (D-Penn.) and Joseph Cao (R-La.), both committed pro-life votes, against the Senate measure without changes to the bill. Any change by the House would require the legislation to once again pass the Senate.
There is another seat vacancy from the health care “yes” vote column: former Congressman Robert Wexler of Florida who resigned his seat effective January 4, 2010. Remove three votes from the “yes” column and add two to the “no” column and it doesn’t appear Democrats will be walking that health care plank anytime soon — unless Pelosi can convince those who have already voted against the government takeover of health care that it’s in their best interest to now vote in favor nationalized health care.
According to the Real Clear Politics blog, “Murtha was facing a primary challenge from Ryan Bucchianeri, a former Naval officer and placekicker on the Navy college football team. Republican Bill Russell, whom Murtha defeated with 58% in 2008, is running again, as is Republican businessman Tim Burns.”
Also now in question the fate of Murtha’s airport in Johnstown, PA. As Rep. Darrell Issa (D-Ca.) pointed out in an op-ed last May:
“The John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport is tucked away on the outskirts of Johnstown, PA, a town with a population of approximately 21,000. On any given day the airport handles an average of 20 passengers on a total of three flights — all to Washington Dulles International Airport. A recent exposé by ABC News found the airport ‘virtually deserted’ and dubbed John Murtha’s airport the ‘Airport for Nobody.’
“Over the past decade, Congressman Murtha has secured at least $150 million in federal funding for his airport, in addition to a $147 per passenger annual government subsidy.”
Murtha was unable to secure additional funds through normal channels for the airport last year after the ABC report, but he managed to get a new, second runway paid for with so-called stimulus funding.