The Senate approved a budget resolution last week that omits an amendment that would have withheld funds from the National Labor Relations Board to prevent it from enforcing decisions or regulations issued after three members were seated to the Board via recess appointment on January 4, 2012. In the wake of the recent federal court decision finding that the recess appointments were unconstitutional, several measures have been considered in Congress to limit the Board’s authority. Just last week, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved a bill that would require the Board to suspend all activities that require a three member quorum and prohibit the enforcement of any quorum-required action taken after January 4, 2012. The amendment (S. Amdt. 349) to the budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 8) was the most recent maneuver to accomplish this end.
During the Senate’s marathon voting session, a total of 573 amendments were offered to the budget resolution. Only a small subset of these amendments were considered and approved. Among amendments that were adopted were ones that would: rescind the Affordable Care Act’s 2.3% excise tax on medical devices; “restore a sensible definition of ‘full-time employee’” for purposes of the employer penalties imposed by the Affordable Care Act; preserve the right to employer-provided contraceptive coverage; repeal the $2,500 federal cap on flexible spending accounts; and require equal pay policies and practices. These amendments are more aspirational than enforceable, however, because budget resolutions are nonbinding. They do provide indications as to how the Senate would vote on such issues if they were presented as standalone bills.