Obama’s non-recess appointments herald more bickering post-2012

There exists a hope that this November’s elections, with such a stark divide between Democrats and Republicans on many issues, will provide some political clarity for at least a couple of years. There’s a chance that comes to pass. Yesterday’s actions by President Obama, however, suggest the more likely outcome is an even nastier, dysfunctional Washington.

I’m talking about Obama’s appointment Wednesday of four officials: three to the National Labor Relations Board, and one as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. He styled these as “recess appointments.” Which wouldn’t be problematic if Congress were in fact in recess. But it’s not: The House and Senate are conducting pro forma sessions expressly to avoid going into recess.

Democrats will point out that Republicans in the House forced this situation to prevent recess appointments, which are constitutional, and which President George W. Bush and others made at times to skirt Senate opposition to their choices. Republicans will point out that Democrats in the Senate — including then-Sen. Obama — employed the exact same tool for the exact same reason toward the end of the Bush years, and that Bush did not “go nuclear” by ignoring the pro forma sessions. A similar point could be made about the use of the filibuster.

I would say that, sooner or later, one party or the other was going to have to decide to unilaterally disarm when it comes to these disputes. Except that neither party has exhibited the kind of good faith that would indicate it would respond in kind to such a disarmament.

Until and unless that changes, I can only imagine these situations will continue to escalate until one side gets the judicial branch involved to decide on constitutional grounds. And I fear that, even then, the result will not be a resolution respected by all parties, but rather to make that branch even more politicized.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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251 comments Add your comment

John

January 5th, 2012
12:12 pm

Republicans are trying to unconstitutionally make or change laws. The Consumer Financial Watchdog Agency and the National Labor Relations Board and their work has been created by law as specified in the Constitution…passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the President. It it the government’s responsibility to make sure these laws are being followed. By their own admission, the Republicans are trying to get rid of the laws which created these agencies by ignoring their responsibility to vote on the nominees. They have no problem with Mr. Cordray personally or politically…they have a problem with the agency itself and the law that created the agency. Without these positions being filled, the agencies cannot do their jobs which makes the law useless. If Republicans don’t like the laws, they can change it through the Constitutionally based process not through some childish unconstitutional game.

“Congress has a constitutional duty to examine presidential nominees, a responsibility that serves as a check on executive power,” said Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConell (R-KY). Mitch McConell, do your job instead of playing games and then whine when you’re being beaten at those games you want to play.

Jefferson

January 5th, 2012
12:15 pm

If you don’t like it, try to elect another president. Otherwise, crying like a child because the other team is doing what you would do if you were in power, is indeed child like. It would be different if it were the 1st time, it ain’t.

Jimmy62

January 5th, 2012
12:16 pm

John: And Obama is specifically doing exactly what he said should not ever be done when the shoe was on the other foot. What this really illustrates is that nothing Obama ever says should be taken at face value or even as the truth. He can do the most evil and illegal thing in the world, then say the Republicans made him do it, and people like you will congratulate him for it. Y’all don’t actually care about the rule of law, just winning.

Jimmy62

January 5th, 2012
12:17 pm

Jefferson: You seem to forget that the GOP did have the chance to do this very thing, but they didn’t do it. Because it’s against the law. Sorry, but lawbreakers should be prosecuted, not cheered.

Don't Tread

January 5th, 2012
12:18 pm

Comrade Obama in 2008: “You lost”.

I suppose that’s all the justification he needs to run things “his way”. After all, he won’t take no for an answer. Sieg Heil!

John

January 5th, 2012
12:27 pm

Jimmy62, what happened to Republicans demand for votes for all nominees? That’s what they demanded when they were in the majority during the Bush presidency. So, like your Obama claim, Republicans are doing exactly what they said should not be done when the shoe is on the other foot. What this really illustrates is that nothing Republicans ever says should be taken at face value or even as the truth. They can do the most evil and illegal thing in the world, then say Obama and the Democrats made them do it, and people like you will congratulate Them for it. Y’all don’t actually care about the rule of law, just winning.

This is not about a judge’s nomination…this is about creating or changing laws in an unconstitutional manner. And aren’t the Republicans the party who claim to be the Constitutionalists? Where are these tactics spelled out in the Constitution.

ragnar danneskjold

January 5th, 2012
12:31 pm

Counf me as one who believes every nominee deserves a vote. Presidents ought to be given the teams they desire. If a nominee is objectionable, the block should be on a majority vote, not due to failure of the Senate to fulfill its Constitutional duties.

While Mr. Corday is supremely incompetent for the position – what is it about plaintiff-attorneys that leaves the leftists swooning? – and the position itself is anathema, it does not logically follow that the Obama administration does not deserve the full consequences of its bad judgment. Dodd-Frank is a significant element of the anemic “recovery.”

ragnar danneskjold

January 5th, 2012
12:32 pm

Query, would it be a criminal act for an individual to take government monies without a legal appointment, emphasis on “legal?”

ragnar danneskjold

January 5th, 2012
12:33 pm

Would a former prosecutor be held to a higher standard in any evaluation/question of a personal, arguably criminal act?

@@

January 5th, 2012
12:41 pm

Yesterday’s actions by President Obama, however, suggest the more likely outcome is an even nastier, dysfunctional Washington.

Maybe he’s wants to leave the earth scorched before his exit in 2013.

Promises, promises, such a “nice” fella, he of little change.

schnirt

John

January 5th, 2012
12:42 pm

This has NOTHING to do with the nomination process or recess appointments…it has to do with trying to use games and gimmicks in trying to unconstitutionally create laws. My Cordray has bipartisan support among attorney generals. Not a single Republican senator has said anything negative about Mr. Cordray’s qualification, personal or political beliefs. They have; however, said anyone who is nominated would be blocked because they do not like the law and want to do away with it.Republican’s need to go back and read the Constitution to learn how laws are made.

John

January 5th, 2012
12:48 pm

“Yesterday’s actions by President Obama, however, suggest the more likely outcome is an even nastier, dysfunctional Washington.”

Really? I think that happened when Mitch McConnell said “the single most important thing is for Obama to be a one-term president”. Don’t think you can get nastier and more dysfunctional then that.

BT

January 5th, 2012
12:49 pm

Congrats to Don’t Tread for working in a communism reference AND a Nazi reference. All of his posts in the future should be taken very seriously.

ragnar danneskjold

January 5th, 2012
12:51 pm

Dear John @ 12:42, why do leftists have such affection for unelected bureaucrats who hold absolute power. As written Congress has no power to reduce the agency’s budget, nor to otherwise constrain its activities. Is that not stupidity on steroids, or is that just what you would call muscular leftism?

@@

January 5th, 2012
1:05 pm

Is the CFPB the same as the FTC or under the FTC? It’s looks like duplication to me. Besides, every state and even some local governments have their own consumer protection agencies.

The bigger government gets, the more difficult it is to watch…keep an eye on. I’ve always wondered if that’s their intent.

John

January 5th, 2012
1:05 pm

ragnar danneskjold @ 12:51 pm. “why do leftists have such affection for unelected bureaucrats who hold absolute power. ”

Before making such statements, please do some research. Are you trying to say every government department headed by an unelected bureaucrat was created by leftists? Who created the Department of Homeland Security? I don’t recall having the chance to vote on the person I would like to head that agency.

As far as the law, if Republicans don’t like it, they can change it and create new laws…that remedy is in the Constitution. These games they are trying to play is not in the Constitution.

Jefferson

January 5th, 2012
1:15 pm

Jimmy, wrong.

resno2

January 5th, 2012
1:18 pm

“the single most important thing is for Obama to be a one-term president”. Duh! The majority of working Americans feel that way… so what if Mitch McConnell actually said it?

Voice of Reason

January 5th, 2012
1:19 pm

Does Richard Cordray and the position he was appointed to remind anyone else of Wesley Mouch and the Senior Coordinator of the Bureau of Economic Planning and Natural Resources? Is he going to start issuing Directives?

JDW

January 5th, 2012
1:21 pm

I do have to agree with ragnar for a change…Presidents, all Presidents, deserve fast votes on their appointees. Not approvals mind you, but votes, if you don’t like the appointees or the votes elect someone else to the office.

As to Corday, even the Republicans say he is qualified and that makes this particular filibuster supremely distasteful. In fact he is already a compromise candidate as Elizabeth Warren, the first choice was withdrawn. The NLRB business was just a flat naked attempt by the Republicans to shut down the board.

I agree with Kyle that ultimately the voters will have to put a stop to this business, but in the meantime I am happy to see Obama respond in kind. If you break down his numbers you find that while he does indeed have approvals hovering in the high forty’s in the past he loses some 13 to 15 points to people that think he has not done enough to stand up to the Republicans.

If he gets those folks back he jumps immediately to the low sixties…

JDW

January 5th, 2012
1:23 pm

@ragnar…”As written Congress has no power to reduce the agency’s budget, nor to otherwise constrain its activities. Is that not stupidity on steroids, or is that just what you would call muscular leftism?”

First that is not the case, second the recourse is to change the law not play parliamentary games.

Darvocet spending

January 5th, 2012
1:33 pm

BT

January 5th, 2012
12:49 pm

Congrats to Don’t Tread for working in a communism reference AND a Nazi reference. All of his posts in the future should be taken very seriously.

lol

I love Godwin’s Law

BT

January 5th, 2012
1:33 pm

Resno, congress’s first responsibility isn’t to make sure their buddies in their party get reelected. It’s to govern the country. The fact that both sides fail to realize this is a major reason why we find ourselves in the situation we are in. The fact that McConnell is comfortable enough to actually publicly announce this, is terrifying. The fact that it doesn’t make your blood boil is beyond sad. The fact that in your mind the majority of Americans may or may not agree is entirely beside the point.

@@

January 5th, 2012
1:36 pm

Whooaaa! I have an opportunity to help a left-winger at jay’s.

Oh well, I’m banned so he’s on his own.

Ronnie Thornton (W&D) has terminal cancer, not to mention a humongous mansion not too far from where I live. It’s so huge, it’s gaudy.

Cutty

January 5th, 2012
1:37 pm

Reagan made 240 recess appointments. Clinton 140. W. 171. Obama 29. Get a grip. He’s not abusing the process as past presidents have. Congress passed a law creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I think the better question is why are republicans blocking the vote on the nomination. That is dysfunctional.

Get Real

January 5th, 2012
1:44 pm

Hail King Obama NOT

td

January 5th, 2012
1:47 pm

John

January 5th, 2012
12:48 pm

Sort of like when the Dems said if the judge is conservative then that in and by itself is grounds not to get confirmed to the Federal court?

Linda

January 5th, 2012
1:49 pm

What the consumer really needs is protection from the federal government.

Obama keeps saying that everyone should follow the same rules & thinks there’s not enough billions of them.

Darvocet spending

January 5th, 2012
1:52 pm

td

January 5th, 2012
1:47 pm

John

January 5th, 2012
12:48 pm

Sort of like when the Dems said if the judge is conservative then that in and by itself is grounds not to get confirmed to the Federal court?

When

clyde

January 5th, 2012
2:05 pm

The boys and girls of congress are playing games.They’re not quite closed and they’re not quite open.Obama did an end run and now we will hear the argument for the next few weeks.That’s along with the primary process that’s already run too long.This would all be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.

UGA 1999

January 5th, 2012
2:08 pm

Can anyone on this blog tell me how Obama is going to win Georgia?

John

January 5th, 2012
2:17 pm

td

January 5th, 2012
1:47 pm

As I pointed out before, this has nothing to do with a nominee’s qualification or personal or political beliefs. Both parties have been known to do that…this goes way beyond that. U.S. Constitution – Article 1 Section 7 states how a bill becomes a law. These agencies were created by law which was passed as stated in Article 1 Section 7. Congress has a duty to uphold that law. Instead, Republicans are trying to unconstitutionally change the law via parliamentary procedures. Republicans have every right to change the law if they so choose but by the process as stated in the Constitution. This is not what they are doing. 45 Republicans signed a letter vowing to block ANY nominee to head the bureau until its leadership and funding structures are changed. It’s just more Republican “it’s my way or no way” games.

Darvocet spending

January 5th, 2012
2:20 pm

UGA 1999

January 5th, 2012
2:08 pm

Can anyone on this blog tell me how Obama is going to win Georgia?

Stop posting this over and over in each blog especially when it’s irrelevant to the topic

UGA 1999

January 5th, 2012
2:23 pm

Darvocet….it is very relevant…..Simply because you cannot answer the question does not make it “irrelevant”.

SO, how is he going to win Georgia?

Darvocet spending

January 5th, 2012
2:26 pm

UGA 1999

January 5th, 2012
2:28 pm

Darvocet….is that all you have “just stop”? HA, are you 3 years old?

John

January 5th, 2012
2:31 pm

UGA 1999

January 5th, 2012
2:23 pm

Actually UGA 1999, it is irrelevant. 270 electoral votes is what a candidate needs to become president. Georgia has 16 electoral votes so Obama can loose GA, just as he did in 2000 and still be elected President. The key is to go after the swing states and not worry as much about the states that are consistently either blue or red.

saywhat?

January 5th, 2012
2:31 pm

UGA 1999

January 5th, 2012
2:08 pm
“Can anyone on this blog tell me how Obama is going to win Georgia?”

Perhaps he may win when enough people keep reading such repeated idiotic posts and decide they no longer want to affiliate with the political party of the poster? Just a thought.

Now your turn. Can you tell me how Romney is going to win New York and California?

saywhat?

January 5th, 2012
2:32 pm

UGA1999- “Just stop” is not what 3 year olds say, it is what you say to 3 year olds.

UGA 1999

January 5th, 2012
2:35 pm

Saywhat? Actually yes, I am not so sure Obama will win either California or New York. I have family in both states. California’s economy has worsened since Obama has taken office. Also his weakened stance on immigration is crippling California.

New York will be much more difficult for Romney, however I do think he will pick up the moderate voter from both sides.

What about Ohio, South Carolina and Florida? Currently Obama is losing in all three “swing states” and this is to a generic Repub candidate or Romney.

UGA 1999

January 5th, 2012
2:38 pm

So for all of the liberals in Georgia, why do you insist on coming on this blog on posting your worthless thoughts. He is not going to win Georgia so your vote does not matter. Keep up the good work!

John

January 5th, 2012
2:54 pm

Enter your comments here

gt_me

January 5th, 2012
2:55 pm

UGA 1999@2:38 – So by your logic if the President can get to 270 w/o GA then your vote does not count and you should just stay home next November.

Darvocet spending

January 5th, 2012
3:00 pm

UGA 1999

January 5th, 2012
2:35 pm

Saywhat? Actually yes, I am not so sure Obama will win either California or New York. I have family in both states. California’s economy has worsened since Obama has taken office.

Somehow you’re tying a failure of leadership in California to the President. Isn’t the economic situation more a result of their recent governors? And the anecdotal evidence of “you have family there” is supposed to be indicative of larger trends? Why are you wasting your time on the AJC when it’s clear that you’re ready to be a talking head on Fox News/

UGA 1999

January 5th, 2012
3:01 pm

gt_me – Next November is the actual election that we are discussing. Your point makes no sense. Are you referring to 2016?

Darvocet spending

January 5th, 2012
3:04 pm

Okay, you’ve had your moment in the sun UGA 1999/TD, please get back on topic.

UGA 1999

January 5th, 2012
3:06 pm

Darvocet…and you have yet to answer my question or make a valid point.

Darvocet spending

January 5th, 2012
3:08 pm

Please stop derailing the thread. Just close your browser window.

UGA 1999

January 5th, 2012
3:15 pm

Darvocet….all you have to do is answer the question. Too hard for ya?

Darvocet spending

January 5th, 2012
3:16 pm

Ask a question about recess appointments. Is that too hard for you?