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Potential roadblock for NLRB nominee

UPDATE: Becker’s nomination was blocked in the Senate Tuesday afternoon. The lawmakers voted 52-33 to move forward with Becker’s nominatoin, short of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster.

Today Senate Republicans, fresh off the addition of a 41st member in Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, may test their filibuster power on one of President Obama’s nominees for the National Labor Relations Board.

Members of the Senate are set to take a procedural vote on Craig Becker’s nomination, which would fill one of three vacancies that has hamstrung the normally five-member agency. It takes 60 votes to end debate over Becker’s nomination and send it to a full vote. But if Republicans join in opposition, that number won’t be reached.

Even Sen. Ben Nelson, a conservative Democrat, said he would join GOP members in voting no on Becker.

“Mr. Becker’s previous statements strongly indicate that he would take an aggressive personal agenda to the NLRB, and that he would pursue a personal agenda there, rather than that of the administration,” Nelson said in a statement.

Some lawmakers cite legal writings by Becker supportive of measures such as card check elections. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been vocal in its opposition. But Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said the criticism is unwarranted, a single NLRB member couldn’t implement such massive changes to the labor law system even if he wanted to.

“I don’t have any illusions that those important changes can somehow be accomplished administratively and neither does Craig Becker,” Harkin said.

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