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Senate confirms two to board posts

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed two candidates to be members of the National Labor Relations Board for full five-year terms, breaking a stalemate that has disrupted the labor board’s ability to resolve labor-management disputes.

Those winning Senate confirmation were Mark Pearce, a union lawyer who already serves on the NLRB in a temporary capacity, and Brian Hayes, the Republican labor policy director on the Senate committee that oversees labor issues.

Not on the list of more than 60 Obama nominees confirmed with Mr. Pearce and Mr. Hayes was Craig Becker, a third NLRB nominee that Republicans have united in opposing because of his close ties to organized labor groups - he has served as a top lawyer for the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO.

The NLRB, an independent federal agency charged with refereeing labor-management differences, is supposed to have five members, but until April this year it had only two because Democrats balked at President George W. Bush’s choices and Republicans have blocked President Obama’s nominations.

The Supreme Court last week ruled that more than 500 NLRB decisions will have to be reopened because they were decided by only two members.

Mr. Obama in April made Mr. Pearce and Mr. Becker recess appointments, a practice used by presidents when the Senate doesn’t act on nominations. Mr. Becker can serve only through the end of the next Senate session, through the end of 2011.


IG calls inspection of foreign trials poor

Federal inspectors say the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing only a fraction of foreign drug trials, as companies increasingly move drug testing overseas to reduce costs.

A report by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services says the FDA inspected only about 1 percent of foreign drug testing sites in fiscal year 2008.

The agency is responsible for overseeing the safety of patients enrolled in studies by U.S. drugmakers. However, the inspector found that the FDA was often unaware of early-stage trials conducted in developing countries in South and Central America.

The report recommends that the FDA coordinate better with foreign governments to monitor drug trials abroad.


10 solicitors general

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