The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee on March 14 voted to advance John Ring’s nomination to the National Labor Relations Board by a vote of 12-11. With the committee’s approval, Ring’s nomination will move to the full Senate for consideration.
President Trump nominated Ring to the NLRB to fill the vacancy caused by the departure of Chairman Philip A. Miscimarra in December 2017. He and two other Republicans confirmed in August and September 2017 had constituted a Republican majority at the Board for the first time in 10 years, which opened a brief window of opportunity for them to revisit some of the Obama-era’s considerable overreach.
With Miscimarra’s departure, the NLRB dropped to a 2-2 deadlock, essentially blocking any further efforts to restore balance to labor policy until another nominee can be confirmed. The fact that Ring would return a third Republican to the Board likely explains the party-line vote on the HELP Committee, as allies of organized labor are less than enthusiastic about shifts in policy after controlling the Board for so long.
At his confirmation hearing, Ring pledged to serve as neutral arbiter of the cases brought before the Board, which is what Congress intended when it created the NLRB. That objective was routinely ignored during the Obama administration, when the Board’s majority took multiple opportunities to tilt decisions and regulations in favor of labor interests.
One hopes that Ring’s commitment to serve as a fair and impartial umpire can be taken at face value and that the Senate will confirm him to the NLRB without delay.