President Barack Obama gave the Senate just one day to vet his new nominees to the National Labor Relations Board.
The White House presented the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) with vetting documents for former AFL-CIO lawyer Nancy Schiffer and NLRB Democratic lawyer Kent Hirozawa on the eve of their confirmation hearing, according to Senate sources.
Federal law mandates that NLRB nominees undergo tax, criminal, and conflict of interest background checks performed by the IRS, FBI, and Office of Government Ethics, respectively. The HELP committee rules require the White House to turn over vetting documents at least five days before a confirmation hearing, but Republicans waived those requirements as part of the nuclear option deal.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) demanded that Senate Republicans confirm Hirozawa and Schiffer in a package that includes board chairman Mark Gaston Pearce and two Republican nominees by August, in order to avoid approving a GOP-controlled board.
Hirozawa and Schiffer met with GOP staffers for the first time on Monday and also submitted committee questionnaires as part of the Senate vetting process. They will appear before the committee on Tuesday and are expected to move forward to the full Senate on Wednesday, just eight days after Obama announced the nominations.
Former NLRB general counsel Jerry Hunter called the expedited confirmation process “unprecedented,” emphasizing that executive background checks typically take months to perform.
“I don’t know how the hell the FBI could perform these checks that quickly,” he said. “One day is not enough time for the Senate to vet these nominees.”
This is not the first time the Obama administration has pushed the Senate to confirm NLRB appointees on short notice.