Senate approves Obama pick for National Labor Relations Board general counsel

The Senate has approved President Barack Obama's pick for a top post at the National Labor Relations Board.

Senators confirmed the appointment of Richard Griffin as the NLRB's general counsel Tuesday in a near-party line 55-44 vote. Earlier, the Senate had voted 62-37 to end Republican delaying tactics against the nomination. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was the only Republican to back Griffin's confirmation after eight Republicans joined Senate Democrats to invoke cloture. 

The eight Republican Senators who voted to invoke cloture were Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jeff Flake of Arizona, John McCain of Arizona and Murkowski.

The general counsel investigates and prosecutes cases before the board and holds a four-year term. Griffin is a Democrat and long-time labor lawyer.

Obama named Griffin to the agency's five-member board in January 2012 as a recess appointment, used when the Senate is not in session. Republicans claimed that appointment was unconstitutional, a view that was upheld by two federal appeals courts.

The president removed Griffin from the board last July as part of a deal in which Republicans stopped blocking Obama nominees for other top jobs.

Republicans said this week that they were opposing Griffin because the NLRB has become too pro-union.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.