Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Recess Appointments -OR- Shut up, and stop your whining, John!

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saying, “I simply cannot allow partisan politics to stand in the way of the basic functioning of government,” President Obama has announced 15 recess appointments, including the much anticipated appointment of union attorney Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard arguments about the validity of some of the 580 decisions rendered by the two-member NLRB since its five-member panel has had no quorum for over two years. The two members are a Democrat and a Republican.

Mr. Becker earned his law degree from Yale Law School, and has argued labor and employment cases before many appellate courts and the Supreme Court. He is also the Associate General Counsel to the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO.

Senate Republicans had blocked Becker’s nomination claiming he would bring a radical anti-big business agenda to the job, and requested President Obama not to appoint him over the recess. The president also filled one other unfilled seat on the NRLB which has had a majority of its seats remain open for over two years, thus slowing their work, and calling into question the legality of their rulings.

Mark Pearce, the president’s other pro-employee nominee, did not face Republican opposition. The White House nominees have been awaiting a Senate vote for an average of seven months, and President Obama said his nominees would remain before the Senate for confirmation.

President Obama has 217 nominees awaiting hearings before the Senate, including 77 pending a final floor vote.

By comparison, this time, during his first term, former President George W. Bush had five nominees awaiting Senate approval, and used recess appointment to fill 15 top posts.

Senior positions in the Treasury, Commerce, and Homeland Security departments, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and seats on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Farm Credit Administration Board and the NLRB are all executive appointments.

As well, the President filled two seats in the Treasury Department – Jeffrey Goldstein as Under Secretary for Domestic Finance and Michael Mundaca as Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, saying, “At a time of economic emergency, two top appointees to the Department of Treasury have been held up for nearly six months.

President Obama also named three people to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, which has also been operating without a quorum.

In typically predictable fashion, Arizona Senator John McCain said, “Once again the administration showed that it had little respect for the time honored constitutional roles and procedures of Congress. This is clear payback by the administration to organized labor.

Presidents have Constitutional authority to make recess appointments when the Senate delays confirmation of presidential nominees. Republican and Democratic presidents alike have made recess appointments.

By law, the 15 recess appointees may serve the American people through the end of 2011, when the next Senate finishes its term. Recess appointments end at the completion of the next Senate session or when a person is nominated and confirmed to the job, whichever comes first.

President George W. Bush made more than 170 such appointments in his two-term presidency. President Bill Clinton made nearly 140.

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