Obama Backs Away from Recess Appointments . . . For Now

The White House released a short statement from the President late on Thursday following action by the Senate to confirm — by unanimous consent — twenty-seven executive nominees before leaving for the President's Day recess.

Today, the United States Senate confirmed 27 of my high-level nominees, many of whom had been awaiting a vote for months.

At the beginning of the week, a staggering 63 nominees had been stalled in the Senate because one or more senators placed a hold on their nomination. In most cases, these holds have had nothing to do with the nominee’s qualifications or even political views, and these nominees have already received broad, bipartisan support in the committee process.

Instead, many holds were motivated by a desire to leverage projects for a Senator’s state or simply to frustrate progress. It is precisely these kinds of tactics that enrage the American people.

And so on Tuesday, I told Senator McConnell that if Republican senators did not release these holds, I would exercise my authority to fill critically-needed positions in the federal government temporarily through the use of recess appointments. This is a rare but not unprecedented step that many other presidents have taken. Since that meeting, I am gratified that Republican senators have responded by releasing many of these holds and allowing 29 nominees to receive a vote in the Senate.

While this is a good first step, there are still dozens of nominees on hold who deserve a similar vote, and I will be looking for action from the Senate when it returns from recess. If they do not act, I reserve the right to use my recess appointment authority in the future.

The 27 confirmed today form part of the over 60 executive nominations that had been placed on hold by one of more Senators. Earlier this week, Republicans blocked the confirmation of Craig Becker, a labor lawyer, to a seat on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which has been operating with only two of its five members for a few years.

The White House statement seems to signal that the President will not use a recess appointment to appoint Craig Becker to the NLRB. The President did reserve his right to use his recess appointment authority in the future if the Senate does act on his nominees.

The list of the confirmed nominees is below the fold.

Those confirmed include:

 

Ketanji Brown Jackson, of Maryland, to be a member of the United States Sentencing Commission; Susan B. Carbon, of New Hampshire, to be director of the Violence Against Women Office; Betty King to be Ambassador, International Organization, the United Nations; Caryn Wagner to be Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security; Sara Manzano-Diaz, of Pennsylvania, to be director of the Women’s Bureau; Patrick Corvington, chief of the Corporation for National and Community Service; Robert A. Petzel, of Minnesota, to be under-secretary for health of the Department of Veterans Affairs; Nicole Yvette Lamb-Hale, of Michigan, assistant secretary of Commerce; Marisa Lago, of New York, assistant Treasury secretary; Ellen Gloninger Murray, of Virginia, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services; Bryan Hayes Samuels, of Illinois, commissioner on Children, Youth, and Families, Health and Human Services.; Charles Collyns, of Maryland, deputy under-secretary at Treasury; Mary John Miller, of Maryland, assistant secretary at Treasury; André Birotte Jr., of California, to be United States Attorney for the Central District of California; Richard S. Hartunian, of New York, to be United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York; Ronald C. Machen Jr., of the District of Columbia, to be United States Attorney for the District of Columbia; Mary Sally Matiella, of Arizona, assistant secretary of the Army; Douglas B. Wilson, of Arizona, an assistant secretary of Defense; Irvin M. Mayfield, Jr., of Louisiana, member of the National Council on the Arts; Cynthia L. Attwood, of Virginia, member of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission; Sharon Y. Bowen, of New York, director of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation; Orlan Johnson, of Maryland, director of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation; Douglas A. Criscitello, of Virginia, chief financial officer, Department of Housing and Urban Development; Theodore W. Tozer, of Ohio, president, Government National Mortgage Association; David W. Mills, of Virginia, assistant secretary of Commerce; Suresh Kumar, of New Jersey, assistant secretary of Commerce and director general of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service; Kevin Wolf, of Virginia, assistant secretary of Commerce.

 

Tags: Obama Administration, GOP Obstructionism, Craig Becker, NLRB (all tags)

Comments

29 Comments

This is why we lose.

Because our leadership is too easily placated by crumbs while the opposition (Republicans and ConDems) get most of the cake but still want more, more, more. 

by TheUnknown285 2010-02-11 10:19PM | 0 recs
RE: Obama Backs Away from Recess Appointments . . . For Now

I figured that this would be the response to Obama's actions among the Blog birchers.

McConnell caves holds and you whine beacause you didn't get everything.

Unknown285, if you think you can do a better job than Obama or the Congressional leadership, get yourself elected and shwo us how much of a real tough guy you are.

by spirowasright 2010-02-11 11:02PM | 2 recs
RE: Obama Backs Away from Recess Appointments . . . For Now

They didn't even confirm half of the people they've been blocking for months. Why take this off the table now?

Also, you may not have noticed but organized labor hasn't gotten a lot from the Obama administration. Maybe that doesn't bother you, but I think Democrats win more elections when labor is excited and fully engaged.

by desmoinesdem 2010-02-11 11:20PM | 2 recs
. . . For Now

This is the last congressional recess? I mean, it takes very little use of the googles to find there's another one in March.

Why recess appoint when you can negotiate a real appointment? It may make the troglodite left clap that Obama punched out the GOP, but recess appoitnments only last for like a year or something.

Tell me which is better: 27 true appoitnments and 36 potential true appoitnments slash bargaining chips, or 27 true appoitnments and 36 that expire in a year?

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-12 02:34PM | 0 recs
RE: Obama Backs Away from Recess Appointments . . . For Now

Obama hasn't doen anything for labor?

OKdesmoinesdem, same challenge to you as I gave to unknown285. Throw your hat in the ring, get elected, go to DC and give labor evreything it wants, since you're so tough.

by spirowasright 2010-02-12 05:18PM | 0 recs
RE: Obama Backs Away from Recess Appointments . . . For Now

What I don't understand is why Obama still has faith in Congress - that it will do it's job. I don't have such faith or optimism and believe taking recess appointments off the table is a mistake.

One other important thing here is whether Obama's action in respecting the separation of powers and equality between the branches ever become a precedent. Will future administrations - whether liberal, conservative or centrist maintain such a posture as Obama's? I think we all know the answer to that one... NO. Will Mitt Romney not appoint someone because a minority of 41 senators have a political rather than qualificational hold on him/her? NO. So Obama is handicapping himself and his administration needlessly.

If recess appoitnments are no longer a stick then atleast the fillibustering of qualified appoitees should be taken off the table in return.

by vecky 2010-02-11 11:21PM | 2 recs
Relax

there's another recess in about a month after this one. Better to get true appoitnments than ones that expire in a year.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-12 02:36PM | 0 recs
Meanwhile,

the government isn't functioning effectively without senior staff. There is an immediate need.

 

Your argument would be better suited towards judiciary appointments rather than cabinet ones.

by bay of arizona 2010-02-12 03:07PM | 0 recs
Meanwhile,

These 36 people can't wait a month?

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-12 03:14PM | 0 recs
RE: Meanwhile,

Well OK. The Senate can still approve a recess appointment, and I believe it should be easier to avoid a fillibuster on someone who has already been appointed, but I could be wrong. But i'll wait a month and see what happens then.

by vecky 2010-02-12 03:33PM | 0 recs
RE: Relax

Good point.

Recess appointments don't serve at the pleasure of the President, or until they're ready to move on, or the end of the term...they get 13 months.

 

by spirowasright 2010-02-12 05:13PM | 0 recs
RE: Obama Backs Away from Recess Appointments . . . For Now

So you can't criticize political leaders unless you run for office yourself.  Give me a break.  Your lack of defense of Obama's actions is noted.

by TheUnknown285 2010-02-12 12:50AM | 0 recs
RE: Obama Backs Away from Recess Appointments . . . For Now

Well, you and everybody else in the Liberla blogosphere seem to have it built up in your minds that your party's leadership are all a bunch of wimps, so I figured that since you know it all and you're such gutsy, take-no-prisoners fighters, you might want to dip your toes into the pool, get elected and show Obama, Pelosi, Reid, etc. how to fight. After all, you're so perfect at it.

 

Obama should switch parties--since the liberal blogosphere is nowhere near as tough on Republicans as they are on their own tribe, they're sure to leave him alone.

by spirowasright 2010-02-12 12:59AM | 2 recs
Okay, here's the answer you seek

It takes very little intellect, even by blogosphere standards, to understand that negotiating true appointments is better settling for a recess appoitnment. Sure, recess appoitnments make you look tough, but they are kind of lousy. And the next recess is, oh,... in about a month.Obama got 27 with 36 remaining outstanding.

If Obama had recess apppointed these 63, you'd have 63 vacancies in like a year, perhaps in a legislature less friendly.

So next recess, Obama threatens the same, and gets more of what he wants. You don't have to be as smart as Obama. Not many are. But it doesn't take much intelligence to see that intelligence.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-12 02:41PM | 0 recs
Insulting others' intelligence, huh?

This is not negotiating.  Giving in after a couple dozen confirmations of appointees the Republicans didn't even really oppose to begin with is not negotiating nor is it smart; it's being placated with crumbs.  Obama should have come back with the message that this was not enough.  What makes you think the Republicans will take another threat of recess appointments seriously next time if there is no follow through on those threats by Obama?

by TheUnknown285 2010-02-12 03:09PM | 0 recs
When the insult is due

You do realize the recess appoitnments would expire at the end of the Senate's next session?

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-12 03:12PM | 0 recs
As opposed to leaving critical offices open for who knows how long...

And recess appointments can still be approved by the Senate.

by TheUnknown285 2010-02-12 03:20PM | 0 recs
RE: Obama Backs Away from Recess Appointments . . . For Now I can Whine if I want to

That is way off the mark.  I and many other worked very hard in the trenches for Obama's election. I'm not asking for any medals or recognition but we live in Texas and we were pretty successful given that this state has more rightwingnuts than any place else. We got 4 million Democrats to come out to vote for Barack and Hillary in the primary-- then they voted for him in the general.We got lots of traction in local races for judges, county sheriff, etc. due to the turnout and down ballot.

So far our efforts are have been almost totally wasted. In addition, now because of his infatuation with the Republicans, Wall Street bankers, healthcare CEO's, war mongers,etc.  we are quickly getting to a tipping point where all those gains will be wiped out.  If he doesn't start acting like a strong President the Dems here are going to stay home in 2010/2012.  At this point you will not see me working for Obama in 2012.....

 

by hddun2008 2010-02-12 02:49PM | 2 recs
RE: Obama Backs Away from Recess Appointments . . . For Now I can Whine if I want to

Be careful not to conflate acting like a strong President and abusing the executive powers.

Barack Obama has been very intent, all along, on shifting power back to the legislature, from which it was stolen by Bush. Ceding improperly acquired power by ones predecessor does not make one weak.

If you are for real, why don't you wait until this summer or the summer of 2012 before drawing any conclusions. We're in the middle of the game right now and it's ugly.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-12 03:17PM | 0 recs
RE: Obama Backs Away from Recess Appointments . . . For Now I can Whine if I want to

I wish I could share your patience. 2009 was the year to get many things in play and much needed legislation on the books. My father worked for Pres. Johnson and it sadden's me to see how Obama wastes valuable political time. LBJ in 1965 (his first year as an elected president to get over 600 laws passed) especially Voting Rights, laws important to labor, reforms, farm legislation, and a bunch of other laws that were backed up all the way back to Eisenhower's admin.  Obama missed the window. We had a good chance to elect a Democrat as governor of Texas because of the momentum in early 2009. Now the Republicraps are almost a lock to win. Also, we are going to lose the majorities we have in the Texas Legislature and that will really screw us on the redistricting for the 2010 Census. I don't care how much Obama's apologist's rant here that it's not his fault--IT IS HIS FAULT.....I'm not going to work for him in 2012. I'm just going to try to do damage control by working for local Dems to try to hold on to our gains in 2006/2008.Because of his inaction and his love of "concensus" politics I think we will all have to work hard to hold on to the gains we have made.....

by hddun2008 2010-02-12 04:21PM | 0 recs
How many laws has Obama passed?

Either your myopia is astounding, or this is a new class of trolling.

And we'll just ignore that Congress passes laws, not Obama.

And I guess we'll have to ignore the $787 billion ARRA, DTV Delay Act, CHIR Act, and Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act too, and the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Do you know how many bills Obama has signed into law? the answer might surprise you.

 

 

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-12 04:59PM | 0 recs
RE: Obama Backs Away from Recess Appointments . . . For Now

Well, then go run for President and show Obama and the rest of the Congressional Dems how to fight. They'll never do it, at least in your eyes.

by spirowasright 2010-02-11 11:24PM | 1 recs
RE: Obama Backs Away from Recess Appointments . . . For Now

Actually, Obama has ONE success story. He has turned me from a hardworking poll working Democrat into one who will definitely be home for the election of 2012 should he be the Democrat nominee. I would never vote GOP. When he started out in 2008 we had things really moving. No body wanted any more GW Bush's policies, we owned Congress, etc.

Now look at where we are--since it gets more apparent every day that Healthcare is stopped.  I believe that Obama has put us in a situation where the Healthcare/Medical industry is empowered to the extent that they feel that NO ONE even a President will ever try to beat/reform them again.  Obama has pretty much destroyed any chance of any industry being regulated---they all know now they HE WILL BACK DOWN and they don't have to......what a sad situation when the President has become a eunoch....

by hddun2008 2010-02-12 03:14PM | 0 recs
RE: Obama Backs Away from Recess Appointments . . . For Now

It seems to me it's Congress who has given up, Obama is still fighting for HCR.

Perosnally I think he's trying CPR on something that has already died. Simple move and be another Clinton pt.2 (without the sex scandal please!). Meanwhile I shall go and sob quietly in a corner for a day or two.

And yes, you will vote in 2012. Whatever they may say about Dems and Republicans being "the same / no difference " we know from Gore v. Bush that could not be less true.

by vecky 2010-02-12 03:21PM | 0 recs
RE: Obama Backs Away from Recess Appointments . . . For Now

Please append what I said--you will be correct--I "will" vote in 2012 if Hillary is the nominee. I will even work hard for her. Thanks for putting me straight....

by hddun2008 2010-02-12 04:36PM | 0 recs
RE: Obama Backs Away from Recess Appointments . . . For Now

You will vote for any Democrat after looking at what the GOP puts up. I'm sorry to be all clairvoyant, but that's the way it is.

by vecky 2010-02-12 05:10PM | 0 recs
I think you're wasting your time here

No true democrat would ever vote for the GOP of today, or allow that GOP to take power.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-12 07:52PM | 0 recs
Oh Lord, here come the PUMAs

I and many other worked very hard in the trenches for Obama's election. I'm not asking for any medals or recognition but we live in Texas and we were pretty successful given that this state has more rightwingnuts than any place else. We got 4 million Democrats to come out to vote for Barack and Hillary in the primary-- then they voted for him in the general.We got lots of traction in local races for judges, county sheriff, etc. due to the turnout and down ballot.

First the "concern", then the puma.

I "will" vote in 2012 if Hillary is the nominee. I will even work hard for her. Thanks for putting me straight....

I was going to lambast you for throwing in the towel a quarter of the way into the game. But puma?

Out of what cracks in the liberal blogosphere do these people come?

by NoFortunateSon 2010-02-12 07:51PM | 0 recs
post-partisan image much?

This President just showed that he is more about maintaining his bipartisan image than about governance. The government is understaffed and he has given his right, yes it is a presidential privilege to make recess appointments, for some token placations. Viva bipartisanship!!

by tarheel74 2010-02-12 11:53AM | 3 recs

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