Obama is set to appoint Sharon Block, Terence Flynn, and Richard Grifin to the board — something unions have made a big priority for them in the new year. Senate Republicans have opposed the recess appointments to the NLRB on constitutional grounds, but unions charge that Republicans are only interested in rendering the agency inoperative.
In a statement, Obama said that:
The American people deserve to have qualified public servants fighting for them every day - whether it is to enforce new consumer protections or uphold the rights of working Americans. We can’t wait to act to strengthen the economy and restore security for our middle class and those trying to get in it, and that’s why I am proud to appoint these fine individuals to get to work for the American people.
This is huge: Without these appointments, the NLRB would have been down to two members; it cannot make decisions without a three-member quorum. Republicans were determined to block Obama's NLRB nominations to shut down the board and prevent it from being able to pass rules like its recent moves streamlining union elections and requiring employers to put up posters informing workers of their existing legal rights.
Obama's decision to recess appoint both these NLRB members and Cordray to the CFPB doesn't just put qualified people into the government—it enables the government agencies themselves to function. That functioning, not the specific individuals, was what Republicans hoped to obstruct. It goes without saying that the GOP will be outraged all over again, despite the fact that the last three Republican presidents all made recess appointments to the NLRB. Kudos to Obama for braving the outrage and doing what needs to be done to keep government working.