Three nominees for positions on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are on a path to Senate confirmation votes in coming days, a prospect that could give the workplace civil rights agency its first full complement of five commissioners during the Trump era.
Senate Majority Leader
The Senate will take up each nomination separately. That could inject an element of uncertainty into the timing of the final votes, given that lawmakers must strike a deal on fiscal 2021 spending by the end of the month to avert a government shutdown.
Confirming the nominees would lock down Republican control of the commission into at least the second year of the next administration even if President
Lucas would replace Republican Commissioner Victoria Lipnic, who is serving in a holdover capacity after her term expired in July. Democratic Commissioner Charlotte Burrows, the lone Democrat on the leadership panel, has her seat through July 2023.
Sonderling, who serves as the Labor Department’s deputy administrator for the Wage and Hour Division, and Lucas, currently an associate with Washington law firm Gibson Dunn, are likely to be confirmed easily in the Republican-controlled chamber.
McConnell, by moving to devote Senate floor time to Samuels’ nomination, signaled he believes there are sufficient votes to confirm her. Samuels is a prominent lawyer and advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, and recently drew opposition from a trio of GOP senators.
She currently helms a think tank at the University of California, Los Angeles that studies sexual orientation and gender identity, and has spoken out on behalf of LGBT workers in the past.
When the nominees were advanced by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in June, Republican Sens.
Former EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum, a Democrat, withdrew from consideration for a third term with the agency in January 2019 after a small group of Republican lawmakers, led by Sens.
Sonderling was first nominated by the White House in July 2019, but the Senate HELP panel didn’t vote on the nomination before the end of 2019. He was renominated in March along with Lucas and Samuels.