- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
VERNUCCIO: No time for advice and consent
Recess appointments signal war against Congress
Question of the Day
On Wednesday, President Obama infuriated Republicans and threatened to spark a constitutional crisis when he announced he would make four recess appointments during a “pro forma” session of Congress. A pro forma session occurs when Congress “gavels in and gavels out” every three days but is not technically on recess.
The fact that the president recess-appointed four nominees absent an actual recess is outrageous in itself and has drawn well-deserved condemnation. But also troubling is the way in which he made two appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The last-minute nominations set these two apart from Mr. Obama’s appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and his earlier appointment to the NLRB of Terence Flynn. Their nominations were made months ago.
In a press release, Sen. Michael B. Enzi, Wyoming Republican, ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee, stated, “The president has ignored the Senate’s confirmation and vetting process” by appointing Ms. Block and Mr. Griffin.
As Mr. Enzi rightly noted, the president’s submission of the nominations at the last minute made it impossible for the Senate even to begin its vetting process. The process includes a background check to see if the nominees’ taxes are paid, if they are facing any pending civil or criminal investigations and to ensure that they face no conflicts of interest.
Conflicts of interest are of particular concern in this case. Mr. Griffin was appointed directly from his position as general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers. He also has served on the board of directors for the Lawyers Coordinating Committee of the AFL-CIO. Other than Mr. Obama’s controversial recess appointment of Craig Becker, no other NLRB member has been appointed directly from the legal staff of a union.
Ms. Block was appointed from a political job as deputy assistant secretary for congressional affairs at the now very union-friendly Department of Labor. Her boss, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, who has admitted to having a pro-union bias, gave her “a shout-out” when applauding Mr. Obama’s appointment.
Still, the main fight likely will come on the technicality of whether Mr. Obama was within his rights to make the appointments during the pro forma session. On this point, Democratic hypocrisy is appalling.
Senate Democrats routinely blocked George W. Bush’s recess appointments by going into pro forma sessions several times during his second term. Rather than play chicken with the Constitution as our current president is doing, Mr. Bush abided by the will of the Senate.
In 2007, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warned Mr. Bush against making recess appointments, saying that he would “keep the Senate in pro forma session to block the president from doing an end run around the Senate and the Constitution.” On Jan. 4, Mr. Reid sang a different tune, praising Mr. Obama’s appointment of Mr. Cordray.
As the president’s Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal explained to the Supreme Court in 2010, “[T]he recess appointment power can work in a recess. I think our office has opined the recess has to be longer than three days. And … so, it is potentially available to avert the future crisis … that could take place with respect to the board.”
A December 2011 Congressional Research Service report notes that from the beginning of Ronald Reagan’s presidency to the end of George W. Bush’s, the shortest recess in which a president made an appointment was 10 days.
The report also references a 1993 Justice Department memorandum issued by then-Attorney General Janet Reno. It implied that a recess of more than three days was needed before the president could issue an appointment. The memo stated that “it might be argued that the Framers did not consider one-, two- and three-day recesses to be constitutionally significant.”
Adding insult to injury, Mr. Obama made the appointments on the first day of the 2012 session. Recess appointments are valid only until the end of the next session of Congress. Therefore, the four appointees can serve until the end of 2013.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
TWT Video Picks
By Isaac Orr
New carbon-dioxide rules would put America in the dark
Get Breaking Alerts
- House GOP resurrects border bill, predicts successful Friday vote
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
- Pentagon wants extra $19M to equip, train Ukrainian troops
- EDITORIAL: Pols' misrepresentations fuel public's cynicism about politics
- EDITORIAL: 'Operation Choke Point': A noose for business
- EDITORIAL: For too many gays, 'tolerance' is a one-way street
- EDITORIAL: The real Lois Lerner exposed in newly released emails
- EDITORIAL: Meriam Ibrahim's happy immigrant story
Recent Letters to the Editor
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Time for some policy 'pars' from golfer-in-chief
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Reject any legislation dubbed 'comprehensive'
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Stop silence on relocations of illegal aliens
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Atheists, let up on 9/11 cross
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Ukraine is not so easily understood