On February 3, 2010, Republican Senator-elect Scott Brown of Massachusetts urged the Governor of Massachusetts to sign his election certification papers February 4, 2010, which could allow him to be sworn in that day. The move hastens Brown's seating, which was originally scheduled for February 11, 2010, and permits him to participate in several key Senate votes during the upcoming week, including the vote on Presidential Obama's nomination of long-time union attorney Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Democratic Senators have been trying to rush through President Obama's controversial nominations, like Becker (NLRB) and Patricia Smith (Department of Labor's solicitor), ever since Brown won the election in Massachusetts last month. If seated February 4, 2010, Brown's vote will likely lead to a successful Republican filibuster of Becker's appointment to the NLRB.
Known for having strong ties to prominent unions, Becker has been an associate general counsel for the Service Employees International Union for 18 years and a staff counsel for the AFL-CIO for six years. Becker has also drawn sharp criticism from pro-management groups for his radical, anti-employer views which have been published in academic articles including, among other things, the position that employers have no "cognizable" interest in the outcome of union elections.
President Obama initially nominated Becker in July 2009 with two other nominees, Brian Hayes and union attorney Mark Pearce. Senator McCain placed a "hold" on Becker's nomination, while the Help, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee approved the nominations for Hayes and Pearce. The HELP Committee sent Becker's nomination back to the White House in December 2009.
On January 20, 2010, President Obama resubmitted Becker's nomination. Still faced with stiff Republican opposition, the HELP Committee held a hearing on Becker's nomination to the NLRB on February 2, 2010 — the first hearing on a nominee to serve as a non-chairperson member of the NLRB since 1980. The HELP Committee planned to have another vote on Becker's nomination February 4, 2010, and, following the 30-hour period after cloture has been filed, would send Becker's nomination to the Senate for a full vote. If sworn in February 4, 2010, Brown would be able to participate in the vote on Becker's nomination, and Democrats would likely be unable to defeat the expected Republican filibuster. Under such circumstances, Becker's nomination would effectively be dead.