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Public Statements

Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ROKITA. I thank the chairman for yielding.

I'm struck by the mention of fairness from the gentlelady who just spoke. What is fair is the rule of law, and that's what this country was founded on. That is the ultimate fairness. And that's what this bill is fundamentally about--the core American value about respect for the rule of law.

Now, our President chose to violate the law by unconstitutionally appointing new members to the National Labor Relations Board in January of 2012. And while the President claimed he had this authority and while our friends are claiming he had this authority because the Senate was ``in recess,'' there was one problem: the Senate wasn't in recess. The Senate was actually in session.

Last year, in response to this, I led in a letter to our President, with 26 of our colleagues, Mr. Speaker, protesting these appointments and asking the White House to obey the law so that we wouldn't have the uncertainty that we do now, so that we wouldn't have to have the argument that we're having now, unfortunately; but by making these appointments, the White House and the executive branch has essentially claimed the authority to determine when the Senate is unavailable to perform its constitutional duties.

The executive branch should not be deciding whether the Senate is unavailable to provide its advice and consent. Our Founding Fathers, who created a government marked by a separation of powers, would be shocked and dismayed by the utter disregard the President has shown to the Constitution of the United States by making these appointments.

Now, Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to my colleagues on the other side who continually make this argument as though if they said it 20 times it actually makes it more true--it does not--the suggestion that President Obama's actions were similar to past Presidents is patently false. No President ever made recess appointments while the Senate was meeting regularly in pro forma session--until this current President.

If President Obama had followed the practice set by his predecessors, there wouldn't be a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the NLRB today. And this uncertainty, to the point made by my colleagues earlier, is hurting jobs; because when you have Commissioners who are appointed unconstitutionally, their rules are now unconstitutional. Businesses can't follow them. Unions can't follow them. Workers can't follow them. And when that's the case, what job creator is going to hire more people? And that's the real situation we find ourselves in here today, unfortunately.

Now the issue is pending before the United States Supreme Court. It's my hope that the Court will acknowledge that no one, including this President, Mr. Speaker, is above the law in this country, from the poorest of our citizens to himself.

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Mr. ROKITA. We can never afford to forget that.

For these reasons, I simply urge all my colleagues to support H.R. 1120 and to not listen to the nonsense that we're hearing from the other side. We believe in the worker. We believe in workers' rights. We believe in the rights of businesses. We believe in the rights of unions. We believe the President, above everyone else in this country, should follow the law.

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