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updated: 4/9/2013 12:00 PM

Obama to nominate labor board members

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Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama is nominating three candidates for full terms on the National Labor Relations Board, which has been in limbo since a federal appeals court invalidated his recess appointments to the agency.

Obama on Tuesday urged the Senate to move swiftly in confirming the members -- two Republicans and one Democrat -- along with two other Democrats he nominated in February. That would fill all five seats on the board.

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"By enforcing workplace protections, upholding the rights of workers and providing a stable workplace environment for businesses, the NLRB plays a vital role in our efforts to grow the economy and strengthen the middle class," Obama said in a statement.

The move comes as House Republicans prepare to vote this week on a measure that would effectively shut down the board until it has permanent members confirmed by the Senate.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in January that Obama violated the Constitution when he bypassed the Senate to fill vacancies on the board. Since then, Republicans have claimed the board lacks any legitimacy to act.

The White House has insisted the appeals court decision is wrong and plans to appeal it to the Supreme Court. But the ruling has prompted more than 100 businesses to claim the board lacks authority to take action against them because two of its members are not there legitimately. It also has frustrated labor unions who worry the board can't crack down on unfair labor practices.

Obama is renominating board Chairman Mark Pearce, a Democrat, and nominating two Republicans -- management-side lawyers Harry I. Johnson, III and Philip A. Miscimarra.

The president nominated Democrats Sharon Block and Richard Griffin to full terms in February. They have been sitting on the board since January 2012, when Obama made the recess appoints after Senate Republicans vowed to block Obama's NLRB nominees. Republicans complained the board was issuing too many pro-union decisions.

The White House hopes that Senate Republicans will favor the five-member package nomination of two Republicans and three Democrats. Both Republican nominees have passed muster with GOP leadership.

The president claimed that he made the recess appointments while the Senate was on a break. But the appeals court panel ruled that a recess occurs only during the breaks between formal yearlong sessions of Congress, not just any informal break. It also ruled that a vacancy must come into being during a recess in order to be valid.

The White House says the first-of-its-kind ruling runs contrary to more than 150 years of practice.

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