When the Senate was incomunicado in January, Obama made four recess appointments—a Director for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and three members to the National Labor Relations Board.
- The Republicans were not delighted saying that such a move is unconsitutional, as the Senate was not technically on recess.
- The White House, however, pointed out that the Senate was holding only “pro forma sessions” and only doing so to stop Obama from making recess appointments.
- Pro forma sessions, says Jean Eaglesham of The Wall Street Journal, are “the equivalent of punching your time card when you get into work in the morning, turning on your heel, and walking out the door.”
And then the DOJ spoke …
- On January 12th, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a legal opinion stating that Obama did have the authority to make these appointments because the Senate was on recess even though it held periodic pro forma sessions (about three a week) in which no business was conducted.
- The report showed that at some sessions only one member was present, and that is “not sufficient to exercise constitutional authority to advise and consent to normal presidential nominations.”
Why was Obama in a hurry?
- In short, the Senate is using stalling and blocking tactics at an unprecedented rate. Currently there are 74 nominees pending Senate consideration and another 107 held up in committees.
- Bucking the new financial watchdog, 44 of the 47 Senate Republicans signed a pledge to block anyone the President nominates for the new CFPB until the position of director is weakened.
- Republican senators are also blocking President Obama’s Executive Branch nominees at a rate never before seen, reveals a review of records by People For the American Way.
- An also unprecedented 62% of Obama’s judicial nominees were not confirmed in the first two years of his presidency. That is the lowest ratio of approvals of any president in American history.
Is Obama making too many recess appointments?
- The Congressional Research Service, points out that President Obama is actually quite a conservative when making recess appointments; with these four appointments, Obama has made a total of 32 recess appointments (average 10.6 a year).
- In comparison, during their eight-year presidencies, George W. Bush made 171 recess appoint– ments (21.8 a year), Clinton made 140 (17.4 a year), and Ronald Reagan presided over 240 (30.4 a year). In his four years as president, George H. W. Bush made 77 (average19.3 a year).
Just thought you should know. ®
Sources: Ari Berman, “Senate Republicans Block Yet Another Well-Qualified Obama Nominee,” The Nation, thenation.com, 6/6/11. Jean Eaglesham, “A Warning Shot on Financial Protection,” Wall Street Journal, wsjonline.com, 7/24/11. Jonathon Weisman, “Appointments Challenge Senate Role Experts Say,” The New York Times, nytimes.com, 1/8/12. Marge Baker, “GOP Obstruction of Executive Branch Nominees,” People For the American Way, 184.108.40.206/media-center, 2/11/09. Pete Yost, “Justice Dept. Says Recent Recess Appointments Legal,” Christian Science Monitor, csmonitor.com, 1/12/12. Phil Mattingly, “Cordray Recess Appointment May Jeopardize Other Obama Banking Nominations,” Bloomberg, mobile.bloomberg.com, 1/5/11. “Senate Republicans Block All Executive Branch Nominees,” The Georgetown Progressive, Georgetown University, guprogressive.com, 1/12/12.