Obama’s recess appointments outrage Republicans

Here and Now

President Barack Obama on Tuesday outraged Republicans by announcing he had made four recess appointments, including one to a new consumer watchdog that Republicans are adamantly opposed to.

Republicans say that Obama’s recess appointments aren’t allowed because the Senate has not actually gone into recess. Obama’s administration said the pro forma sessions that have been held don’t count as actual sessions, according to his legal experts, so they’ve decided to go ahead with the appointments.

Richard Cordray, the first head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, had been nominated to the position some time ago but his confirmation had been held up by Republicans. Giving the agency a head was critical to the agency being able to function. Republicans weren’t happy with its powers so they’d hoped to prevent it from taking any action until they pushed through legislation cutting back what it could do.

Appointment of Cordray "Should Not Be a Divisive Issue"

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Obama is certainly not the first president to use recess appointments to get his nominees past confirmation. Ed O’Keefe of the Washington Post writes that Bill Clinton made 139 and George W. Bush made 171. Sen. Harry Reid actually conceived of the pro forma sessions as a way to block recess appointments under Bush, who made non over his last year in office, for that reason.

The U.S. Constitution says recess appointments can be made whenever the Senate is in recess. It also requires each house grant permission to the other house if it is to go into recess. The House hasn’t approved a recess for the Senate, but Obama said his attorneys have determined that these pro forma sessions don’t actually count and that the Senate is, in fact, in recess.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a lobbying group for American businesses, has said a court challenge is practically guaranteed.

According to The Hill, “The text of the Dodd-Frank law states that those powers will not take effect until the CFPB director ‘is confirmed by the Senate.'” Because Cordray has not been confirmed by the Senate, business leaders have speculated that a court challenge could focus on whether Cordray can even assume the powers promised him in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

Shorlty after announcing Cordray’s appointment, Obama announced he has appointed Sharon Block, Richard Griffin and Terence F. Flynn to the National Labor Relations Board, ensuring the body will still have enough members to meet and conduct business and heading off a potential filibuster from Republicans.

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