WASHINGTON – Nicholas C. Geale, a Republican staff member of the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee, was nominated by President Obama Dec. 17 to be a member of the National Mediation Board, which administers the Railway Labor Act affecting railroads and airlines.
If confirmed by the Senate, Geale would take the now vacant Republican seat on the three-person NMB — the two Democratic seats currently being held by Harry Hoglander and Linda Puchala. The Republican seat had been held by Elizabeth Dougherty, who voluntarily departed the agency earlier this year following expiration of her term.
Hoglander holds an expired seat and is awaiting Senate reconfirmation to a fourth term on the NMB, having been renominated by President Obama in May 2011. The law permits NMB members to continue serving, following expiration of their term, until a successor is confirmed or they are reconfirmed. Typically, Republican and Democratic nominees are paired for confirmation. Previously, Republican nominee Thomas Beck withdrew his name after the Senate failed to take action on his nomination.
If the Senate fails to act on these nominations (Geale and/or Hoglander) prior to Dec. 31, the president would have to make new nominations when the new Congress is seated in 2013.
Geale currently is director of oversight and investigations for Republicans on the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee, a position he has held since 2011 when appointed by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.). Previously, Geale was counsel to the Republican members of the committee. He has also served as counsel to the deputy secretary of labor during the George W. Bush administration, and as an assistant general counsel with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. He earned a law degree from Georgetown University.