Skip to comments.GOP blocks recess appointments
Posted on 12/18/2011 3:06:39 PM PST by neverdem
President Barack Obama has been under immense pressure from the left to install Richard Cordray as head of a new consumer watchdog agency as soon as the Senate closes its doors for the holidays.
He wont be able to.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on the White House for assurances not to make recess appointments during the holiday break. But the White House did not make that promise, Republican aides say, and now parliamentary maneuvering will prevent the president from circumventing the Senates confirmation process during the five-week recess.
At the end of a rare Saturday session, the Senates last day of official business for the year, McConnell blocked an effort by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to confirm more than 50 executive and judicial branch nominations awaiting Senate action.
And he laid out a condition to releasing his objection: confirmation from the administration that it will respect practice and precedent on recess appointments.
McConnell added that he needed from the White House assurances that have been routinely given at this point with regard to recess appointments.
Later in the day, it became clear that McConnells demands were not satisfied. The Senate will now convene for 10 pro forma sessions over the next month, where the chamber will meet for only seconds every few days just to say its in session, thereby preventing recess appointments from being made. A White House spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Constitution gives presidents the authority to make such appointments during Senate breaks, a move that allows nominees to serve in their posts through the end of the following calendar year without Senate confirmation. While the Senate often scoffs at such efforts to circumvent its advise-and-consent role, presidents of both parties over the years have made controversial recess appointments.
President George W. Bush, for instance, named John Bolton in 2005 to serve as the United Nations ambassador, and Obama installed Donald Berwick last year to head the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Both presidents drew enormous criticism from their opponents in the Senate.
Most recently, pressure has been growing on the left for Obama to name Cordray as the head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Last week, Republicans blocked the nomination from coming to an up-or-down vote by a 53-45 tally, seven votes shy of breaking a filibuster.
The GOP said it wanted a handful of reforms to roll back the sweeping powers of the new watchdog agency, but Democrats blasted McConnell for what they believe is a GOP pattern to stymie Obama nominees in the Senate.
The Senate has reasserted its power over the nomination process in recent years Reid routinely employed the maneuver of holding pro forma sessions when Bush was in power to block any recess appointments.
During this Congress, where Republicans control the House and Democrats control the Senate, pro forma sessions have been the norm during breaks since neither chamber can be in recess for more than three days without the consent of the other. Republicans have no desire to see Obama install more nominees without their consent.
Pro forma sessions force a senator usually from nearby states like Virginia, Maryland or Delaware to preside briefly over the chamber just to keep the lights on. The meetings are usually uneventful the rare exception being the August earthquake in D.C. that forced the Senate and its presiding officer, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), to hold its pro forma session a few blocks away from the Capitol because of fears of the historic buildings structural integrity.
On Saturday, McConnell and Reid did agree to move a host of nominees to fill military posts and ambassadorships.
But Reid said he was disappointed with McConnells decision to block dozens of nominations to fill positions at the Environmental Protection Agency, Justice Department, State Department and other agencies. Cordrays nomination also was part of the package McConnell blocked, according to Senate records.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the Judiciary Committee chairman, was furious at McConnell, saying there were 21 judicial nominees that needed to be confirmed by the Senate.
It is wrong to dismiss the delays resulting from the Senate Republicans obstruction as merely political tit for tat, Leahy said. This is a new and damaging tactic Senate Republicans have devised. They are stalling action on noncontroversial nominees.
On the floor, Reid said the fight reminded him of his running days when he was a younger man.
Those long races, I wasnt fast enough. I ran long races, said Reid, now 72. But unless I started fast, it was really hard to catch up. Thats my concern about these nominations. Weve started so slowly, Im not sure we can catch up. I hope we can.
After adjourning Saturday, the Senate wont conduct legislative business until Jan. 23.
The stupid idiots did wake up.Obama pulled some fast ones last Christmas closing the NBP’s case and appointing liberals. I must say I am shocked at the GOP pubs wow!Now as long as no one takes away any of they’re (dems and pubs) insider trading crony crap they will appease us I guess.
< \defeatist, never see anything positive attitude that has gone viral at Free Republic>
“...Democrats blasted McConnell for what they believe is a GOP pattern to stymie Obama nominees in the Senate”
The GOP grew a pair?
Who are these people, and what did they do with the RINOS?
Good on the GOP.
Obammmy does not have the votes so he would pull a Christmas recess. He made some very bad controversial recess appointments either last Christmas or the year before.This will be the second time the pubs blocked him, I believe.
It may just be appeasing us.There was a bill to stop THEM from insider trading ponzi schemes.Cantor held back on it and was criticized.I wonder if they will truly do it...
‘Bout time we started playing a little hardball.
stymie Obama ???
Wonder if Buckwheat knew his real name?
It's just another ongoing political pissing contest /imo and the RATs lost this round.
“A White House spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.”
“Comments, can wait, I’m gettin’ on that party plane to Hawaii”.
Some noteworthy articles about politics, foreign or military affairs, IMHO, FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.
What’s good for the goose....dingy Harry!
Do not let this man near anything n the federal level.This is pay back for helping Obama cheat and win n Ohio in 2008.
Do not let this man near anything n the federal level.This is pay back for helping Obama cheat and win in Ohio in 2008.
*The stupid party woke up! Merry Chistmas Mitch McConnell!**
Just maybe, they are having Newt flash backs and remembering how gonads are supposed to work.
“Leahy said. This is a new and damaging tactic Senate Republicans have devised. They are stalling action on noncontroversial nominees.
It’s about damn time the Pubbies responded with tit for tat. The dems had no problem with this procedure when Bush was POTUS. In fact, they thought they were very clever using a little used procedure to block any appointments.
What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the rat.
Maybe we should start playing Cowboys and Muslims.
Are you calling the GOP “stupid” even when they do the right thing ????
That’s real good...
No, they borrowed them off the trailer hitch of some guy's pickup truck. They'll return them next week and go back to singing soprano.
While I’m glad this is being done, one does have to wonder what would have been done had Obama promised NOT to recess-appoint anyone. Would McConnell have gone on recess, giving Obama the opening he needs? And look at it from Obama’s standpoint - he only has one year left in his term (assuming the Republicans don’t nominate Governor Perry), so what does he have to lose?
Hip hip hooray
Still functioning at bare minimum level though.
Same as was done for the summer recess. I’m glad the “tea party” members have gone ahead and taken his action.
Both parties ignore the plain language of the constitution which only grants power to fill vacancies that happen during the recess, not those which occurred prior to the recess.
At least they said something and told Obama to take a hike in Hawaii and get lost.