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Scott Brown Demands to be Sworn in ASAP because of NLRB Nominee Craig Becker

Scott Brown is TERRIFIED of this man.

Scott Brown is TERRIFIED of this man.

Senator-Elect Scott Brown is demanding he be sworn in as a Senator from Massachusetts as soon as tomorrow, breaking a deal in place that had Brown taking office next Thursday, February 11.

Marc Ambinder reports that Brown is flying down to DC and will demand he be seated immediately because “Dems are pressing ahead with controversial legislation and nominations.”

A spokesman for Harry Reid says “it’s fine” if Brown wants to be seated tomorrow.  And according to the Boston Globe, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is “planning to certify the results tomorrow at 9:30 a.m., which would then allow Brown to travel to Washington for the swearing-in.”

It’s clear that Scott Brown is demanding to be sworn in for one reason only: the pending nomination of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board.

Becker had a contentious hearing yesterday with the Senate HELP committee after John McCain held his nomination for months.  HELP Chair Tom Harkin promised an “expeditious” confirmation process for Becker after the hearing, starting with the committee voting to approve Becker at 10am on Thursday.  Harkin said:

I’m very proud of you and that you’ll be on the NLRB.  We’ll report this out of committee on Thursday.  I don’t know what the floor will be like but I assure you we will move this as expeditiously as possible on the floor so you can get to work.  It’s about time this board starts doing things.

This would clear the way for Becker to have a scheduled floor vote for cloture within days, theoretically before Brown’s scheduled swearing in on the 11th.  I asked the offices of both Harry Reid and Chris Dodd yesterday about the timing for a cloture vote for Becker, and both were mum.  Since corporate groups have set up Becker’s nomination as a proxy vote for the Employee Free Choice Act, it would seem that with only 59 votes Democrats would be unable to reach cloture for Becker in a post-Brown Senate.

It’s not like they couldn’t have seen this coming.  Yesterday a “Senate GOP aide” threatened “all-out war” if the Democrats tried to confirm Becker before Brown was seated.

“If they try to push this guy through before Scott Brown is seated it would seriously jeopardize Senate relations and destroy Democrats’ last shred of credibility,” one Senate GOP aide said about the nomination of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) nominee Craig Becker, for instance.

“The place would melt down. A shady move like that would spark an all-out war,” the aide said. “And the outrage wouldn’t be limited to the Senate chamber. The majority of Americans oppose card-check and if Democrats cut a backroom deal to circumvent the legislative process in an effort to enact it by regulation, 2010 will make 1994 seem like a good year for their party.”

And as I wrote yesterday, this is just stupid, because voters don’t care about the Employee Free Choice Act, and they certainly don’t care about the National Labor Relations Board.  Democrats should have pressed forward an confirmed Becker and his two fellow NLRB nominees.  If Reid and Senate Dems were smart, and/or had any balls, and/or wanted to do a favor for working people, they’d have expedited Becker’s nomination.  But now, even if HELP voted out Becker’s nomination immediately, and Reid filed for cloture right after, there’s a reasonable challenge to the legitimacy of any vote with Patrick poised to certify the results at 9:30 tomorrow morning.

For now, it looks like Democrats have yet again decided to roll over and let the GOP walk all over working people and their advocates.  And the NLRB will continue to operate with 3 of its 5 seats unfilled.

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Michael Whitney

Michael Whitney

My name is Michael Whitney. I'm a progressive online organizer working with FDL Action. Rush Limbaugh called me "clueless" once. He went into rehab two days later.