With the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) now having gone over four years without a quorum, Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Jody Hice, R-Ga., are urging President Biden to appoint new members or risk the board having to cease operations.
The MSPB is an independent, quasi-judicial agency in the Executive branch that serves as the guardian of Federal merit systems to protect against partisan political and other prohibited personnel practices.
Connolly and Hice, chairman and ranking member of the House subcommittee on Government Operations, made the plea to Biden in an April 5 letter, warning that without a quorum, the board cannot act on claims on whistleblower retaliation. The board has been without a quorum since January 2017, and without any board members since March 2019.
“Because of these vacancies, the MSPB is unable to issue decisions on petitions for review from Federal employees who allege that their agencies have unlawfully acted against them. These vacancies have led to a backlog of more than 3,000 petitions from Federal employees requesting review of their allegations,” Connelly and Hice write.
Of particular concern are three cases working their ways through Federal courts that could force the MSPB’s administrative judges to stop their work. The worry is that the courts may rule the MSPB would rule the judges are not properly vested in their authority to perform duties, an action that would require the MSPB to assemble a quorum to fix, the letter warns.
Taking all of this into account, Connelly and Hice ask Biden to prioritize nominating new MSPB members so they can assemble a quorum. The MSPB is typically made up of three members, with no more than two from any party.