President Biden has nominated employment lawyer Cathy Harris to become chair of the three-member MSPB board, which has lacked a quorum to issue decisions on appeals for more than two years and has been totally vacant for more than two.
Harris, of the Kator, Parks, Weiser & Harris firm in Washington, D.C., formerly was an assistant district attorney in the New York County district attorney’s office and has been an adjunct professor at the George Washington University law school.
With at least one seated member, the MSPB could perform some additional functions such as issuing formal reports—rather than the relatively short white papers it has been issuing since 2017—but at least one other would be needed to begin working through the backlog of more than 3,000 appeals from hearing officer decisions that has built up.
In the prior Congress with a Republican majority, Republicans insisted that all three seats be filled at the same time and Trump administration nominees for all three seats stalled when some Democrats objected to at least one of those nominees. It’s uncertain what approach the Senate will take with its current 50-50 split with Democrats the majority party by virtue of Vice President Kamala Harris being a tie-breaking vote.