Democratic Senator Ben Nelson to filibuster key nominee favored by Big Labor 

Republicans and business interests were already deeply suspect of Craig Becker, Obama's nominee to the National Labor Relations Board. Becker was formerly counsel to the AFL-CIO and the SEIU, and his acdemic writings suggested that he intended to use his post on the NLRB to radically remake labor laws in favor of unions. Labor leaders were "fuming" over the fact that Democrats were unable to vote Becker in before Senator Scott Brown was seated, a move which allowed Republicans to threaten to filibuster Becker's nomination.

Well, before Democrats scream at Republicans for being obstructionist again -- Democrats are now going to have to contend with the fact that one of their own, Senator Ben Nelson, D-Neb., is going to filibuster Becker's nomination:

“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,” said Senator Nelson. “This is of great concern, considering that the Board’s main responsibility is to resolve labor disputes with an even and impartial hand. In addition, the nominee’s statements fly in the face of Nebraska’s Right to Work laws, which have been credited in part with our excellent business climate that has attracted employers and many good jobs to Nebraska. Considering these matters, I will oppose the upcoming cloture motion and the nomination.”

Nelson's opposition probably amounts to a death blow to Becker's nomination. However, the threat of a Republican filibuster could very have likely sunk Becker's nomination without Nelson's help.

In that sense, this is a classic Ben Nelson move. Wait until Democratic political fortunes on something they are supporting are completely sunk. Then come out as opposed to whatever they were trying to do. Nelson appears as having some degree of political independence to his more conservative Nebarska consituents, but he isn't really risking any retribution from his fellow Democrats either. Not exactly a profile in political courage.


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Mark Hemingway

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