Becker Cloture Vote on Monday, Recess Appointment in the Wings?
by Michael Fox
It's not quite the Super Bowl of labor relations policy, but it is a surprising that Majority Leader Harry Reid has called for a cloture vote on Craig Becker's nomination to the NLRB on Monday. If the Republicans hold rank, and there has not been any indication that any Republican Senator is not inclined to do so, cloture will not be invoked. See Congressional Quarterly's story, Feb. 8 Vote Will Be First Test of Senate GOP’s New Number.
Being (thankfully)more than 1,500 miles from the Beltway, I have no clue as to the reason for the quick scheduling. There are some interesting things in play though. One is that the fate of another nomineee, Republican Bryan Hayes is probably tied to Becker's. And Hayes just happens to be the former aide to Republican Senator Mike Enzi. That was not enough to get Enzi's vote this time in Committee. (Enzi and fellow Republican Senator, Lisa Murkowski had both supported Becker in Committee the first time he was considered. The second time was a straight party line vote.)
As for as speculation goes, unless Majority Leader has a trump card somewhere up his sleeve, which seems doubtful, you have to assume that cloture will not be invoked. Failure to invoke cloture does not mean that the nomination is dead so that is not necessarily the end of the story.
One possibility is that the Democrats want to get a vote on record where they can argue that the Republicans are thwarting the ability to govern over a position that not a lot of the public knows very much about and will probably not think should be a very big deal, and then move on to other matters with that piece of political ammunition in their pocket. Or Becker may be tired of being skewered and just want to get it over with and go back to his life as counsel for SEIU.
But the most likely is the one that Senator Reid mentioned, a recess appointment. See Reid Threatens to Bypass Senate With Recess Appointments, from The Huffington Post. The Senate is scheduled to go into recess for President's Day later this month and an appointment made at that time would serve until late 2011.
With the cloture vote sandwiched in between the Superbowl and UT's home basketball game with number 1 ranked Kansas Monday nite, there should be no shortfall of excitement for the 36 hours starting with the kick-off on Sunday. And it probably won't be over then.