Fedweek

Nominees for the MSPB and FLRA governing boards continue to await confirmation despite several signs of a vote being close at hand in the full Senate.

Senate Democratic leaders recently put the nominations on the schedule for potential votes at any time but have not called for votes, in a repeat of a sequence that occurred more than a month ago.

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The nominees are for federal employment lawyer Cathy Harris to chair the MSPB and for Susan Tsui Grundmann, who chaired the MSPB during the Obama administration who currently heads an internal personnel appeals office in Congress, to become a member of the FLRA board. Both received tied partisan-line committee votes in the evenly split Senate both last year and earlier this year, raising prospects of a split vote on the Senate floor with Vice President Harris casting the tie-breaker—as she did in the confirmation of OPM director Kiran Ahuja last year.

Both boards are operating, with the two recently confirmed members at the MSPB —one Democrat and one Republican—putting that board back in business after a five-year lack of a quorum. The confirmation of Harris to chair the board would put it in Democratic control as it wades through a backlog of some 3,600 cases that built up over that time.

While the FLRA board currently is full, confirmation of Grundmann would reverse the party control since she would replace one of the Republicans, who has been continuing as a hold-over after his term expired.

Federal unions have been urging Senate Democratic leaders to call the nominees to a final vote. That is especially the case with the FLRA board, where they are hoping a Democratic majority will reverse a number of pro-management decisions in recent years by the board’s Republican majority with the current lone Democrat dissenting.

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