Obama Misses Opportunity to Make Recess Appointments

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

While President Obama vacationed in Hawaii over Christmas and New Years, he missed what some are calling an rip opportunity to make dozens of critical recess appointments unencumbered by the morass of the 112th “do nothing” Congress.

One such recess appointment is Richard Cordray, Obama’s nominee to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But, with today technically the last day to use this authority it is highly unlikely the timid Mr. Obama would step up and act.

TPM reports:

[A] senior administration official who would not be quoted told reporters at a White House background briefing Tuesday that Obama will not take advantage of that opening.

The official declined to provide further explanation, but the decision implies one of three things: that Obama does not believe he’s encumbered by technical restrictions on his power to recess appoint nominees and can still act between now and late January when Senators return to town; that he will instead wait until a future recess when feels he has more running room and political capital to recess appoint Cordray and others; or that he has no intention of challenging Congressional Republicans by making further recess appointments between now and the end of this Congress.

Obama’s been gun-shy about recess appointments compared to his predecessors — a reluctance that frustrates his progressive critics. But he also has taken a firm stance on Cordray, and many observers believed — and continue to believe — that a recess appointment is still in the works.

In a bid to block Obama’s recess appointments, Congressional Republicans have been forcing the Senate to hold “pro forma” sessions. In these, every three days a nearby Senator heads to the Capitol, gavels into and out of session, and thus prevents a technical “recess.”

Presidents typically respect this precedent, but the Constitution doesn’t tie their hands. Moreover, today is the day that the Senate switches from the first to the second session of the 112th Congress — and Obama could have used the extremely brief window in between those sessions to make any number of appointments. Senate Republicans were well aware of this threat, and made that clear in a number of public statements.

Just before winter recess, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced, “We are ready and willing to move forward, by [unanimous] consent, with a package of nominations to positions in both the executive and judicial branches — just as soon as I receive confirmation from the administration that it will respect practice and precedent on recess appointments, we can get these people confirmed.”

If President Obama believes Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell is “ready and willing to move forward” this spring on appointments, then the president is even more naive than we’ve been led to believe.

Editor Update: Apparently, President Obama had enough of being called a pussy and a wuss in the blogosphere. He manned up and made three recess appointments, one included Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The White House announced Wednesday that Mr. Obama would also use his recess powers to fill three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency charged with enforcing labor law.

This entry was posted in News, Politics, President Barack Obama, Recess Appointments and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Obama Misses Opportunity to Make Recess Appointments

  1. DMason says:

    In a stare down with McConnell and Boehner, Obama is the first to blink. People wanted Kennedy or Clinton but instead, we got Carter. I knew Obama was no Johnson but this is embarrassing.

  2. Estacada says:

    McConnell won’t let Richard Cordray through. Hell, they’re opposed to the creation of the consumer agency to begin with.

    This is why Obama threw Elizabeth Warren in the Potomac River. Boehner said she wasn’t friendly enough to Big Business, so he replaced her with Cordray immediately. The Republicans are playing Obama as if he were a Marionette.

  3. Project 300 Immigration says:

    I agree. An opportunity lost. Nothing new for Obama.

  4. Rachel says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion when it comes to President Obama and the Republican party, if they told him to give up his daughters he would say “sure, OK.” I’ve never seen a president so easily cave to the party opposite as this guy. I don’t get it. What is so scary about John Boehner?

  5. Carpe Diem says:

    Obama governs like a moderate Republican. There’s not a lot of difference between him and Romney.

    It really doesn’t matter much who wins in November. If anyone thinks I’m crazy then please, look at Romney’s record as Massachusetts governor. If anything, he was more liberal than Obama on a number of issues Democrats hold near and dear.

  6. ajihani says:

    I agree with the comments. Another lost chance for Obama to use his constitutional powers to get his agenda done, his appointments made and the American people helped at a time when things look as bleak as I can remember. Hillary would not have wasted a golden opportunity like this. But then, she has much bigger balls than Obama.

  7. PissedinNYC says:

    Obama isn’t naive or timid. That’s giving him a pass. He wants this. A naive fool does not become president.

  8. Sayingwhatneedsaying says:

    President shit stain…………

  9. Tim says:

    From what I understand he’s supposed to put Cordray in Today, Jan. 4 2012. I’ll believe it when it happens.

  10. feminazi says:

    From what I understand, Obama’s worst nightmare came true last night: Mitt Romney won the GOP caucus in Iowa. Now Bachmann, Gingrich and Perry will be gone by the end of the week, and then Santorum will be gone by the end of the month. Obama will face the one he fears the most. I think they need to put Hillary on the ticket or forget about winning reelection in November.

  11. Mauigirl says:

    Feminazi, I think that would not be a bad idea, for sure. Of course, the economy is now picking up a bit too, which will also give Obama a boost.

    As for those who think Romney isn’t any different from Obama, I have a feeling they would get over that delusion pretty quickly if Romney did win. Obama may not have done all the things we want him to do or even that he said he would do (which are not the same), but make no mistake, Romney, even if he governed from a more centered position than his current veer to the right, would still be well to the right of Obama and none of us would be happy with him.

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