A chance at filling all three member positions at the Merit Systems Protection Board was voted down in Senate committee Nov. 28, because committee members could not agree on all of the nominees.
The MSPB, comprised of three members, is an independent agency of the executive branch that hears appeals of federal employee complaints and performs studies to review significant Office of Personnel Management actions.
The MSPB has operated with a single member since President Donald Trump took office Jan. 20, 2017, and, as it lacks a quorum, the board is unable to issue decisions on employee cases.
Vice Chairman Mark Robbins, whose seven-year term was supposed to end March 1, 2018, is currently the only member of the board, serving in a statutory carryover year while a replacement for his position is found.
The MSPB has, in fact, lacked full membership since then-Vice Chairman Anne Wagner left in March 2015, leaving only Robbins and then-Chairman Susan Tsui Grundmann to serve as members of the board.
Grundmann, whose term was supposed to expire March 1, 2016, continued on in a one-year statutory carryover until Jan. 17, 2017, leaving only Robbins on the board.
Trump nominated Dennis Kirk and Andrew Maunz to be members of the board March 12, 2018, and nominated Julia Clark to the board June 20, 2018. The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee held a hearing for all three July 19, 2018.
Federal employee unions opposed the nominations of Kirk and Maunz, claiming that they did not have the requisite experience to hear cases concerning federal-sector labor relations or labor and employment law, while generally supporting Clark for the position.
But committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., noted that it was tradition of the committee to move forward nominations such as those to the MSPB en masse and that if the committee wasn’t able to do so, they would take no further action.
Members voted seven in favor and seven opposed to Maunz’s nomination along party lines, meaning that none of the nominees could move forward to full Senate vote.