U.S. Rep. Tim Scott's bid to restrict the authority of the National Labor Relations Board passed the House of Representatives on Thursday as expected, with voting largely along party lines.
Of the 238 yeas for the bill, which would prohibit the NLRB from "ordering any employer to close, relocate, or transfer employment under any circumstance," all but eight came from Republicans.
Scott, a Charleston Republican, introduced the Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act earlier this summer in response to the agency's April complaint against the Boeing Co.
The NLRB has alleged the Chicago-based aviation giant decided to build a second 787 Dreamliner production facility in North Charleston in retaliation for union strikes at its main plant in Everett, Wash.
Scott said the vote showed majority support for his view that "government overreach is killing American jobs."
And citing his bill's Democratic supporters, he called the result "one of the more bipartisan pieces of legislation that's passed."
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham's companion bill, on the other hand, is unlikely to pass the majority-Democratic Senate. But that didn't dampen enthusiasm Thursday.
In a statement, Graham, R-S.C., said he "will continue to press (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid to bring it to a vote."
Said Scott: "I think there's always hope until the votes are done."
An NLRB spokeswoman declined to comment on the House action, citing longstanding agency policy. Boeing released a statement reiterating its position that the NLRB complaint is "groundless and legally unsupportable" and should be withdrawn.
"Boeing did not transfer work from Washington to South Carolina; the production line in Charleston is new work," the statement read.
During a lively back-and-forth debate Thursday morning, Republicans painted the legislation as a step toward job creation in the nation's struggling economic climate. Democrats decried it as an attack on American workers' rights, calling it "The Outsourcers' Bill of Rights." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi took that moniker a step further, calling HR 2587 "The Outsourcers' Bill of Wrongs."
Some two dozen congressmen, ranging from Hawaii Democrats to Florida Republicans, took a minute or two to weigh in on the divisive issue.
Among the most colorful was U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, who represents the Upstate. He said the NLRB has been acting like a "taxpayer-funded law firm" for organized labor that needs to be "reined in."
"The (National Labor Relations Act) is supposed to balance the rights of employees, employers and the general public, but you would never know that from the recent actions of the NLRB," he said.
Democrats objected to a different kind of interference: Congress taking an action that would shut down an administrative action in progress.
"Changing the law in the middle of a trial is irresponsible and dangerous," said U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J. His state colleague, U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, called it "a naked attempt to directly interfere" in the pending Boeing case.
The NLRB Boeing hearing in Seattle has been going back and forth since mid-June, with disputes over document exchange spanning the summer. The case might have to go before a federal judge on those issues before any substantive trial, NLRB spokeswoman Nancy Cleeland said.