Senate OKs an Obama pick, but rancor returns
WASHINGTON — The Senate approved President Obama's pick for a top post at the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday, but the chamber approached showdowns over other nominees that were starting to revive the partisan rancor a similar fight ignited last summer.
In the key roll call, senators voted 62-37 to end Republican delaying tactics against Richard Griffin, whom Obama nominated to be NLRB general counsel. Senators then confirmed the appointment on a near-party line 55-44 tally.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., planned votes in coming days aimed at halting what he said were GOP roadblocks against six other nominations. The most controversial were Obama's picks of Patricia Millett to join the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which was developing into a key flashpoint, and Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C., to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Republicans said Reid and Obama were trying to tilt the partisan balance of the D.C. appeals court's judges, now 4-4, toward Democrats with Millett's nomination. That court, which gets involved in many cases involving federal regulations, is considered by many to be the second most powerful federal court, behind the Supreme Court.
“The majority leader and his allies are attempting to pack the court with judges who will rubber stamp their big government agenda,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate's No. 2 GOP leader.
Obama has nominated attorney and law professor Cornelia “Nina” Pillard and U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins to fill D.C. appeals court vacancies.