Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The Washington Post today has an editorial in support of Presdient Obama's recess appointments that lambasts Tea-Publican obstructionism for nullification. Obama’s justifiable ‘power grab’ on recess appointments - The Washington Post:
[C]ritics argue that the president did not have the authority to make such appointments. Their proof? Every three days or so, a lone senator enters the chamber and gavels in a seconds-long, pro forma session; a bipartisan agreement mandated that the sessions would proceed “with no business conducted.” With the Senate in session, critics argue, the president is prohibited from exercising his power to make recess appointments. Some also note that neither chamber can adjourn without the consent of the other. Lawmakers left for the holidays without such an agreement.
Democrats first used these tactics during the latter days of the George W. Bush administration. The practice continues because Republican leaders are intent on turning the tables on Mr. Obama.
No court has addressed the question of whether a president is precluded from making recess appointments during pro forma Senate sessions. But we believe the president’s action is justifiable, as former Bush Justice Department officials Steven Bradbury and John Elwood argued persuasively in an op-ed in 2010, when the situation was similar (though not identical) to today’s.
The Constitution vests the president with the power to fill vacant executive- and judicial-branch slots when the Senate is in recess. This power should not be undermined — indeed, nullified — through the use of ploys. To argue that phantom pro forma sessions render the Senate “open for business” is to defy common sense. The same holds true for the fiction created when lawmakers head out of town but decline to formally acknowledge an adjournment.
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Both the consumer bureau and the labor relations board are agencies of the U.S. government, created by Congress, and it is inexcusable that congressional obstructionism would leave them unable to function. If Republicans don’t like the structure or purpose of either agency, they should try to alter them through legislation. Meanwhile their filibustering against qualified nominees to make political points or extort concessions from the White House cripples government and discourages good people from serving. That is the real poisonous practice, in which both parties have engaged. Until there is a de-escalation, the country will continue to pay a high price.
Adam Serwer writes at Mother Jones, Chart of the Day: Presidential Recess Appointments:
Obama's decision to disregard the Senate's procedural roadblocks sets something of a new legal precedent future Republican presidents may try to take advantage of—presidents typically have not made recess appointments during pro-forma sessions. On the other hand, as TPM's Brian Beutler writes, Republicans were engaging in an "extra-legal attempt to nullify a key portion of an act of law" by blocking Cordray's nomination to head the agency.
Few presidents have seen their appointments subject to as much obstruction as Obama, and few have been so timid about taking advantage of recess appointments. Here's a chart showing the average recess appointments per year of Obama's predecessors:
According to reports from the Congressional Research Service, during their time in office President Ronald Reagan made 240 recess appointments, President George H. W. Bush made 77 recess appointments, President Bill Clinton made 140 recess appointments, and George W. Bush made 171. Obama's first term has seen a paltry 28.