Womack challenges Obama on 'recess' appointments


WASHINGTON — Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, introduced legislation Tuesday challenging so-called “recess” appointments that President Obama made to the National Labor Relations Board.

The legislation would essentially nullify any decisions the NLRB has made since Obama appointed three members last January while the Senate was out of town.

The Senate typically is required to confirm presidential nominees under the constitution’s “advise and consent” clause. However, there is a loophole for allowing appointments when the Senate is not in session.

To prevent such “recess” appointments, the Senate last year held pro forma sessions during periods where no work was done and most members were out of town. That was the case in January when Obama made the three NLRB appointments.

“I — along with many of my colleagues — questioned the constitutionality of these supposed ‘recess’ appointments. So did many of my constituents,” Womack said.

A federal appellate court ruled earlier this year that the president overstepped his authority in making those recess appointments – a decision that the White House has indicated it would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Womack’s bill would halt enforcement of any decisions the NLRB made since those appointments were made and would prevent additional rulings until the Senate confirms the members. A similar bill has already been introduced in the Senate and is being co-sponsored by Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.

Reps. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, and Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, are co-sponsoring Womack’s bill along with a dozen other House Republicans.

The legislation faces an uncertain future given almost certain opposition by Democrats who hold the majority in the Senate.

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment on the bill.

Obama installed Sharon Black, Richard Griffin and Terence Flynn onto the board last January — avoiding a threatened Republican filibuster and ensuring the NLRB enough members to function. It otherwise would have lacked the three-members needed for a quorum. Republicans, particularly from right-to-work states like Arkansas, have criticized recent NLRB actions.

Womack, Griffin and Crawford voted in 2011 in favor of a bill to prohibit the NLRB from ordering any employers to close, relocate, or transfer employment under any circumstance.

The legislation, which did not become law, was drafted in reaction to an NLRB decision that could have forced Boeing to shutter a newly opened factory in South Carolina and move the work to its main manufacturing base in Seattle.

Obama last month submitted Griffin and Block to the Senate for confirmation to the NLRB.

House Republican leaders have called on Obama to appoint “four qualified individuals” to the NLRB. They have also asked NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce to cease all activity until the Supreme Court rules. The Supreme Court has not said if it will consider the appeal.