Obama sends Senate two NLRB nominations

July 16, 2013 at 7:22 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 16 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday nominated two new members of the National Labor Relations Board and withdrew nominations of two recess appointments.

The nominations of Kent Yoshiho Hirozawa, of New York, and Nancy Jean Schiffer, of Maryland, came after Senate Democrats and Republicans took action on long-delayed presidential nominations amid indications a deal was near on averting a showdown on procedural filibusters.

The agreement calls for Republicans to retain the ability to filibuster presidential nominees while allowing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to reserve the right to trigger the so-called nuclear option to change the rules on filibuster, The Hill said.

"They're not sacrificing their right to filibuster, and we damn sure aren't filibustering our right to change the rules if necessary, which I'm confident it won't be, but I want it made very clear," Reid said.

The Senate earlier Tuesday voted 71-29 to move Richard Cordray to the brink of formal ratification as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Obama said in a statement released by the White House after the breakthrough his nominees "have waited far too long for a vote."

"Over the last two years, I've nominated leaders to fill important positions required to do the work of the American people, only to have those positions remain unfilled -- not because the nominees were somehow unqualified, but for purely political reasons," the president said.

"In the weeks ahead, I hope the Congress will build on this spirit of cooperation to advance other urgent middle-class priorities, including the need to take action to pass commonsense immigration reform and keep interest rates on student loans low for families trying to afford a higher education," Obama said.

Hirozawa is a member of New York law firm Gladstein, Reif & Meginniss LLP -- which represents local unions in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan area and international unions based in Washington. Schiffer is associate general counsel for the AFL-CIO in Washington.

Republicans have agreed to allow votes before the August recess on Hirozawa and Schiffer, The Hill reported.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was attempting to line up six Republican votes on Obama administration nominees to the National Relations Board, Roll Call said.

As part of the agreement announced Tuesday, Obama agreed to withdraw NLRB nominations of Sharon Block and Richard Griffin Jr., who have been serving on the board since made them recess appointments in January 2012.

Senators emerging Monday night from a rare, bipartisan, closed-door caucus meeting in the richly decorated but rarely used Old Senate Chamber said no deal was struck during the session.

Some of the 98 senators who attended said they were confident an agreement could be reached Tuesday to defuse the tense partisan standoff.

Filibustering senators are allowed to speak for as long as they wish on any topic they choose. A filibuster can be stopped when 60 senators vote to end debate and bring the filibustered matter to a vote.

Reid has said if Republicans try to filibuster the controversial nominations Tuesday, Democrats will change Senate procedures so only 51 senators are needed to end a filibuster on an executive-branch nomination.

The 60-vote threshold to end filibusters would remain for judicial nominees and legislation.

Democrats and allied independent senators hold 54 seats.

Changing the Senate rules would also require 51 votes.

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