Circumventing the Senate confirmation process, President Obama has installed
15 appointees while Congress
is out on spring recess. Pundits are spinning it as a sign of Obama's
renewed willingness to defy Republican obstructionism. The biggest bone
of contention is the appointment of union lawyer Craig Becker to the
National Labor Relations Board. Becker was blocked last month by
Republicans and two Democrats, and just days ago, all 41 Senate
Republicans signed a letter begging the President not appoint him. Is this
a new phase of the Obama presidency?
Brand New Obama Kevin Drum at Mother Jones writes:
"This is not what you do if you're trying to make nice. It's what
you do if you're playing hardball and you want to send a pointed
message to the GOP caucus. You won't act on my nominees? Fine. I'll
appoint my guys and then leave it up to you to round up 50 votes in the
Senate for yours. Have fun. Does this mean the postpartisan Obama is
finally dying away, overtaken by a newly muscular president willing to
duke it out with a Republican Party that he finally realizes has been
utterly consumed by its hardcore obstructionist wing? Maybe! Stay
- It Certainly Is, writes Joe Gandelman at The Moderate
Voice: "If you look at Obama’s decision to roll up his sleeves and his
apparent conclusion that he was going to get nowhere with the GOP with
these appointments, it suggests he is now in the next phase of his
presidency where he is going to try to optimize use of his power as
President to get his policies and agenda through, and also optmize his
role as head of his party."
- This Is Bush-League,
writes James Joyner at Outside the Beltway:
"In yet another way President Obama is like his immediate predecessor,
he’s shamelessly abusing the recesses appointment power to bypass Senate
intransigence... The recess appointment process... exists solely
because the Framers envisioned Congress being out of session for months
at a stretch, not a backdoor way to bypass the Senate when it’s on
hiatus for a few days."
- This Is Actually a
Positive Trend, writes Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns and
Money: "This is simply an area where presidents will — and should —
become more aggressive. If the Senate is going to allow its idiotic
rules to prevent the president from appointing people to the executive
branch — including mostly qualified people with majority support — the
use of recess appointments will become more and more common, and rightly
so." The Atlantic's James Fallows agrees. "On the merits, this is a welcome
move IMHO, both because it is insane (whichever party is in power) to
keep major positions in Treasury, Customs-Border Patrol, etc vacant; and
because many of these nominees are really excellent choices."
Chicago Politics, writes Jennifer Rubin at Commentary: "This
is the reality of Obama — unbending, ideologically extreme, and
contemptuous of the other branches. He has revealed himself to be
precisely what liberals used to rail against — until they got the levers
of power. The Chicago pols are certainly plying their trade."
Had Gone Too Far, writes Steve Benen at The Washington
Monthly: "The whining is cheap as it is hypocritical. It's not the
president who's shown 'little respect for the time honored
constitutional roles and procedures of Congress' -- that's actually
backwards. Obama has been reluctant to use recess appointments
specifically because he wants to see the Senate do its job. But it's
reactionary Republicans like McCain who prefer to ignore "time honored
constitutional roles and procedures" -- such as the notion of giving
qualified nominees up-or-down votes."
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