Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wants a new slate of nominees to the National Labor Relations Board.
During a floor speech Tuesday morning in which he also said Democrats would call President Barack Obama a "dictator" if he were a Republican, McConnell made clear the individuals currently serving on the NLRB with legally suspect recess appointments won't be confirmed with Republican votes.
"Look: To justify doing something as extreme as the left wants, you’d better be prepared to make a rock-solid case. And this is the best they can come up with? That we need to change the rules of the Senate because big labor bosses say so?" McConnell said in what is likely to be a recurring theme if Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., moves to change the Senate rules if the NLRB nominees face a GOP-led filibuster, using the so-called "nuclear option."
Reid and his fellow Democrats have been contemplating a move to set the precedent that nominations are not subject to filibusters, which would effectively change the rules of the Senate with a simple majority.
Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., told reporters Monday evening that he still opposes such a move, echoing a frequent McConnell line about breaking the rules to change the rules.
"If you’d like more confirmed — if, for instance, you want the Senate to confirm your nominees to the NLRB — then don’t send us nominations that have already been declared illegal by the courts," McConnell said. "We've already said that's not going to happen."
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments next term on the legality of recess appointments to the NLRB. There is a disagreement between federal appeals courts on when exactly the president's power to make recess appointments should be applied. In the case being reviewed by the Supreme Court, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals took a very narrow reading of the recess appointment provisions, saying they only apply to intersession recesses.
Of course, Democrats have noted that even new nominees wouldn't ensure a path to confirmation free of procedural hurdles. Moreover, at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, even a new nominee would not be enough to get Senate confirmation.
CFPB Director Richard Cordray serves under a recess appointment that's of the same questionable validity as the NLRB appointees. However, GOP senators have said in writing that no one should be confirmed to lead that agency until changes are made in the organizational structure.