- The Washington Times - Monday, December 10, 2001

As President Bush mobilizes America against Osama bin Laden, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is waging a bitter war against the president's policies and nominees, often without much in the way of resistance. Nowhere is this more true than in critical areas of labor policy, including the nomination of attorney Eugene Scalia to serve as Labor Department solicitor. No less troubling, according to foes of compulsory unionism like the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, is the administration's continued disarray, which began well before September 11, in its handling of nominations to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Thanks to the hardball tactics of the Democrats and Big Labor and the commendable willingness of Senate Republicans to fight back the issues have become very much intertwined. On Tuesday, Mr. Daschle declared dead the nomination of Mr. Scalia, son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. "I don't know that it merits a lengthy debate," Mr. Daschle sniffed. It is somewhat understandable that Mr. Daschle would want to avoid a lengthy debate on the substance of the issue, given the questionable reasons for the opposition to Mr. Scalia. For one thing, it's an open secret on Capitol Hill that the opposition is motivated largely by Democrats' desire to take revenge on his father for his participating in the high court decision that effectively ended the 2000 presidential race in favor of Mr. Bush. In addition, organized labor is furious with Eugene Scalia, an expert on federal labor law, for opposing the Clinton administration's efforts to foist questionable regulations governing repetitive-motion injuries on business.
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Edward M. Kennedy, whose panel approved the Scalia nomination by one vote, is opposed to the nomination, and apparently persuaded Mr. Daschle not to allow it to come to the Senate floor for a vote. At his organization's convention in Las Vegas last week, AFL-CIO head John Sweeney, a Kennedy ally, served notice that he plans to follow a scorched-earth approach in dealing with the administration. Mr. Sweeney, according to the Wall Street Journal, denounced President Bush for "waging a vicious war on working families." President Bush, by contrast, has followed what amounts to a turn-the-other-cheek approach in dealing with this onslaught. At the NLRB, Mr. Bush has had the power to fill four seats on the five-member board. Yet at present, he has nominated only two individuals, Republican Alex Acosta and Democrat Dennis Walsh. Mr. Walsh, a Clinton holdover, is best-known for joining in an NLRB majority opinion earlier this year requiring a non-union BellSouth employee to wear a union patch on his work uniform. In another case, he argued that union militants should be able to engage in videotaping of replacement workers a blatant example of intimidation. Yet, inexplicably, President Bush has nominated Mr. Walsh to another three-year term on the board.
Senate Republicans who might have been persuaded to hold their nose and let the Walsh nomination go through without opposition have apparently had enough. One, apparently Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, has placed a "hold" on Mr. Bush's NLRB nominees in order to ensure that there is a floor vote on the Scalia nomination. These Senators deserve praise for working to ensure that the full Senate gets to vote on Mr. Scalia. And President Bush should withdraw the Walsh nomination in favor of someone less likely to rubber-stamp union coercion.

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