Barack Obama names recess appointees even though the Congress in not in recess
While all eyes have been turned on the Republican primary in New Hampshire and I have been focused on covering the event as it unfolds, Barack Obama made national news with his recent recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the CFPB as well as three other appointments to the NLRB and I feel obligated to write about this story.
The constitution grants the president the power to make such appointments when the Congress is in recess, and in fact John Bolton was a recess appointee by President Bush, so there would be nothing new or newsworthy here but for the fact that the Congress technically is not in recess.
The Congress has used a political gimmick known as pro forma; the Congress adjourned but they held the Congress open so the Congress is not in recess and the president does not have the authority to name an appointee to these positions because some members of the Congress meet every few days to conduct “business.”
As I said, this is a political gimmick designed to ensure the president does not appoint people without the consent of the Congress but it is not without precedent and in fact this was a tool which was used against President Bush by the Democrats when Barack Obama was in the Senate. Harry Reid stated that he supported Barack Obama’s decision even though while he was the Senate majority leader he bragged about using pro forma to block President Bush from making recess appointments:
I had to keep the Senate in pro-forma session to block the Bradbury appointment. That necessarily meant no recess appointments could be made
And yet he now says that Barack Obama was justified in ignoring the pro forma session and precedent, but he is not the lone Democrat supporting Barack Obama’s decision; Nancy Pelosi has also come out in favor of Barack Obama’s decision:
I’m very proud of the president of the United States and the appointments that he made yesterday. I’m very glad that he did and it’s important for the American people to know what challenges face him as he tries to provide leadership for the agencies of government, which have been voted on by the Congress, are part of our public policy
This is all very interesting because we can rest assured that neither Harry Reid nor Nancy Pelosi would feel the same way if it were President Bush who ignored the pro forma session and appointed people to positions of power in light of the Congress not being in recess. In fact they would have condemned the president for overstepping his role and ignoring the will of the Congress.
If this were President Bush who did this Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid would not be proud of the president and they would not throw their support behind the president. In fact they would be attacking President Bush for the power grab, they would call him a dictator, and accuse him of ignoring the checks and balances of the three equal branches of the government guaranteed in the constitution.
But what is most disconcerting about this move is Barack Obama’s comments defending his decision because it is becoming obvious that he does not feel the three branches of government are equal; he feels that he is above the Congress and if they do not do what he wants them to do that he can simply ignore the Congress and do whatever the hell he feels like doing. Why even bother with debating the issues if the president is simply going to ignore the concerns of one part of society? It is obvious that Barack Obama is using the Congress as a charade or a masquerade to appear to be willing to work with both sides of the aisle, when in reality he is simply going to ignore the Congress when he can’t get what he wants in the first place.
In his world it is my way or the highway; he wants to work with the Congress as long as they pass his agenda, but if they do not he will not take no for an answer. He also stated that he was obligated to act if the Congress would not. This reeks of the type of dictatorship the left tried to claim President Bush wanted to impose during his stay in the White house yet they are supporting Barack Obama’s decision because they put ideology above the constitution.
President Bush was called a tyrant and a dictator by the left but he respected the pro forma Congress and did not attempt to subvert the Congress by ignoring the law as did Barack Obama with this move; Barack Obama has ignored years of precedent and his own legal counsel with these appointments and if he is allowed to get away with this we can expect more power to be taken away from the Congress and consolidated in a central authority beholden to nobody but himself.