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Citing "Legal Uncertainty" Caused by Recess Appointments, House GOP Members Introduce Bill to Halt All NLRB Activity

On March 13, 2013, GOP members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee introduced a bill intended to put a halt to all actions by the National Labor Relations Board pending resolution of the confusion caused by a recent D.C. Circuit ruling that found President Obama's "recess appointment" of two of the three current NLRB members unconstitutional. Citing the "legal uncertainty" facing employers in the wake of the D.C. Circuit's decision in Noel Canning v. NLRB, the bill, titled the Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act (H.R. 1120), would restrict the Board's authority to take any action until one of three events occurs: the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the President's "recess appointments", a Board quorum is constitutionally confirmed, or the terms of the two "recess appointments" expire.

Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), made the GOP members' purpose in drafting the legislation clear: 

"The president is ultimately responsible for fixing the crisis he created. While we wait for him to act, I had hoped the NLRB would cease all activity and avoid making an already difficult situation worse. Since it appears the board is unwilling to do so, Congress must intervene. "

Notably, although the bill would temporarily enjoin any further actions by the Board itself and would prevent enforcement of any action taken by the Board after January 2012, when the "recess appointments" occurred, it would not prevent NLRB regional offices from accepting and processing unfair labor practice charges or prevent workers from petitioning for union elections. 

Whether the bill will grain traction in the House or Senate remains to be seen, but Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN), who introduced the bill, explained that in his and other GOP members' view, "[a]llowing the board to continue its work while its constitutional standing is in doubt is not an option. This important legislation will prevent the board from creating greater confusion and uncertainty while also ensuring other important functions of the NLRB can continue."

Hinshaw will continue to follow this developing story.

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