Free Markets, Free People
Obama’s recess appointments
Its been something that all recent modern presidents have had to go through – nominees for office have been held up or blocked by the legislative branch in their “advise and consent” role for various reasons. Frankly, I’ve been of the opinion that leaders should be able, within reason obviously, to appoint who they wish to political positions their election entitles them to fill. Elections have consequences.
However that’s not the reality of the situation, is it? Both sides play this game. And believe it or not there are “rules” or precedence which guides even this process.
One of the things that has become crystal clear is that despite all the previous rhetoric from then candidate Obama about the “executive president” and how George W Bush was abusing his power, Obama the president has no qualms about doing what Bush did and more.
Signing statements, something Obama condemned on the way to the White House, are now routine for the Obama administration.
As for these most recent recess appointment? Well, it’s a matter of timing, and again this administration has decided it will simply do what it wishes, regardless of the law:
Obama infuriated Republicans Wednesday by announcing the recess appointment of Richard Cordray to be the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Senate Republicans had blocked Cordray’s nomination for months, so the president bypassed them with a recess appointment during the holiday break.
He followed that up later in the day with recess appointments for three members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), heading off another likely GOP filibuster.
The recess appointments broke with legal precedent, as they while the Senate is holding regular pro forma sessions. Republicans insist the Senate has not been in recess thanks to the seconds-long sessions held every few days, but White House attorneys determined the procedural move is a gimmick that can be ignored by the president.
These are the same White House attorneys who also previously said just the opposite. Jim Treacher brings us up to date:
But the appointments may have been illegal, according to past administration statements. Obama’s own lawyers publicly stated in a 2010 exchange with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts that the president doesn’t consider a congressional recess official — meaning he can’t legally exercise his recess appointment power — until Congress has been gone for three full days. ‘The recess appointment power can work in — in a recess,’ Obama’s Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal said. ‘I think our office has opined the recess has to be longer than three days [to make an appointment].’ The Senate entered a recess on Tuesday, after having held a pro forma session to keep Obama from making any recess appointments. Another was planned for Friday. By making the appointments just one day after the Senate went into a recess, Obama appears to breaking his own administration’s rules and, as scores of Republicans are quick to point out, decades of executive precedent."
And, of course, the usual hypocrisy is afoot:
According to The Hill, Obama’s move breaks from 20 years of precedent while violating a policy established under fellow Democrat and former President Bill Clinton’s administration.
During the Bush administration, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid denounced recess appointments and conducted the same pro forma Senate sessions. It’s unclear what, if anything, Reid will say or do about Obama exhibiting a disregard for his advice.
In an update, Treacher reports:
Reid has backed Obama’s decision to make the recess appoints, contradicting his previous arguments about how recess appointments are “mischievous.” A spokesperson for Reid didn’t immediately return The Daily Caller’s request for comment on whether Reid has a new, enlightened argument or is just playing partisan politics to help Obama.
I’m sure Majority Leader Reid has a splendid explanation for now saying precisely the opposite of what he was saying under a GOP administration while he held the same position.
Nothing like the rule of men instead of the rule of law, no?
It makes life so … interesting, doesn’t it?
As for the Constitution, it is now available in the White House shop in convenient toilet paper rolls.