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Barack Obama names recess appointees even though the Congress in not in recess

January 5, 2012

  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.

   Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid feel as if the constitution is a valuable tool as long as it is used to stop a conservative agenda, yet they are willing to ignore it when it is convenient to promote a liberal agenda. All I ask for is a little consistency, is that too much to ask for?
  Republicans have called the president out on this issue but the only remaining question is this: Does the Republican leadership have the balls to actually challenge Barack Obama on this? From what I have seen so far the answer is no and a new precedent has been set that will ensure we slide ever so much closer towards a dictatorship from which we will never emerge.
48 Comments leave one →
  1. Jesse permalink
    January 5, 2012 10:37 pm

    I don’t understand how it is possible to just bypass the congress, the system is set up so the president cannot make decisions on his own. I feel helpless as I watch the destruction going on in Washington, what can we do when we see blatant disregard for our constitution? I felt the same way when Obama dropped bombs on helpless Libyan soldiers without the approval of congress in the name of mass genocide that “might” have taken place. No one has the right to kill a soldier sitting in a tank that is probably scared and does not know whether to follow the leader he has been serving for years or follow his fellow neighbors in rebellion. Maybe he was about to defect right before the American bomb took his life. Unacceptable!


    • January 5, 2012 10:50 pm

      It shouldn’t be possible Jesse, but if the Republicans in charge do not call him on it and are unwilling to stop him at all costs then they are just as guilty as he is.


  2. LD Jackson permalink
    January 5, 2012 10:38 pm

    Are you sure you didn’t read my post first, Steve? 😉

    Seriously though, this is troubling. The simplest way I can put it is this. If Obama doesn’t like the way the game is being played, he has no qualms about changing the rules. I will be so glad when he is out of office.

    Great post, Steve.


    • January 5, 2012 10:56 pm

      I promise Larry. 🙂
      This really is troubling because he is basically telling the Congress he is going to do whatever he wants. He isn’t interested in working with the Congress, he is interested in dictating to the Congress what he wants in the hope of intimidating them into going along with him and if they don’t he will portray them as obstructionists and then implement his agenda anyways.


  3. January 5, 2012 11:07 pm

    The checks and balances of our country are facing substantial duress under this administration. There is a move to limit the terms of the SCOTUS and we have a president (lower case intended) that neither cares for the Constitution of this great country or for the processes that have evolved over the 236 years since our Declaration of Independence from England with which we are governed. I will say this if we are driven to the bitter end there will be a second revolution. Maybe this is what B.H. Obama is hoping for. We now have warfare technology being issued to the civilian police under the pretense of subduing terrorism. The terrorism in this country now emanates from the White House. The fact remains to be seen, will the police use their new-found technology against a repressive government or to subdue a rebellious constituency? In November 2007 I pulled all my investments from the market and warned my friends and family that they would be wise to invest in arms and ammunition. Some listened and some did not. Hopefully they will not need to find out if my premonition was valid.


    • January 5, 2012 11:16 pm

      I do not doubt that Obama would like to see violence before the election so that he could crack down on it. He is engaged in class warfare and called out the troops and OWS met his challenge. He is purposely trying to divide us because it is the only way he can be reelected.


  4. The Georgia Yankee permalink
    January 5, 2012 11:14 pm

    We all know the Senate is in recess; the “pro forma” convening of the body periodically is nothing more than a gimmick meant to deny the President the check-and-balance power the constitution affords him when he’s dealing with a finicky Congress. All he wants is the same thing everyone was hollering should be given President Bush’s nominees – a plain up-or-down vote.

    But President Obama called them on it – and if President Bush had called Harry Reid on it, I’d have supported him (Bush) too. And, by the way, we all know that if it were President Bush poking a finger in the eye of the Senate, everyone here would be cheering him for having the stones to stand up to Harry Reid and tell him where to go. Or where to get off. At any rate, he’d have been giving Harry Reid directions, and everyone here would have been cheering.

    Instead, because it supports the current argument, President Bush is hailed for knuckling under to Senator Reid.

    Meantime, two federal agencies – agencies created and authorized by legislation duly passed by the Congress – now can get to work, work they were prevented from doing because of the lack of a quorum (NLRB) or lack of a director (FCPB).

    Next? If we get thrust into the same mess as before when it comes time to extend the debt ceiling to pay our bills, look for the President to invoke the 14th Amendment: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

    Take good care and may God bless us all!



    • January 5, 2012 11:22 pm

      I agree with you that the pro forma session is a gimmick but still it has always been adhered to and Obama’s lawyers warned against this action. If Bush had tried this you may have supported him but I doubt Reid and Pelosi would have.
      I think you are right on the debt ceiling as well, but I don’t think that Obama will have to invoke the 14th amendment because the Republicans won’t dare to oppose him in an election year.


      • The Georgia Yankee permalink
        January 5, 2012 11:35 pm

        Actually, I think beating up on the Senate gets him a lot of support now – people generally have a higher opinion of used care salesmen, dentists and undertakers than they do of members of Congress, who are being excoriated from all sides as petty and obstructionist. The President’s calling the Senate – particularly its GOP minority – on obstructionism, and I think he’ll have a lot of popular support for it.


      • January 6, 2012 6:44 am

        I agree, I think he made a calculated political move and I think there will be a segment of the voting block who will see this as a positive move.


  5. January 6, 2012 1:33 am

    This is scary stuff Steve. The congress has two branches. The Senate represents the interest of the states and the House the interest of the people. What Obama has done in his total disregard for the rules and procedures put in place by the congress is tell the states and the people they have no say, He has told the states and the people he doesn’t care about the constitutional limits placed on him. He has told the states and the people they no longer have the constitutional rights to be represented, This is huge Steve. This is a moment that if allowed to stand by both Republicans and Democrats in congress will change America. Those who support this are enemies of the republic because a republic is bound together by its procedures and rules. In the end those who support this are enemies of the states and the people. I’m going to keep my New Year’s resolution and write my congressman and senators and express my deep concerns about the president’s actions because this isn’t about Republican or Democrat; this is about America. I encourage you and your readers to do the same.


    • January 6, 2012 6:47 am

      And while he has ignored the constitution and the people with this move he is actually claiming he did it for the people. This is a typical ploy by a person who is looking to gain total control over the government and the people.
      I will be writing my reps tonight as well.


  6. joe permalink
    January 6, 2012 2:03 am

    I will be writing Senator Ayotte and Rep. Charlie Bass asking them to fight this crap with every available means at their disposal. They should start by seeking an injunction to keep it from even starting.

    I seriously believe that the bozo is doing his best to start a revolution in America so that he can impose Marshall Law. What better way to grab all the power indefinately. I think he has had this in mind since the beginning of his term. I want to see the BASTARD of Pennsylvania Avenue IMPEACHED!! This act IMHO demands it.


    • January 6, 2012 6:49 am

      Couple this with the army he called into action to start a class warfare campaign in the OWS it certainly looks like he is trying to start a fight.


  7. January 6, 2012 3:14 am

    Honestly, I find it tough to get very motivated by what Obama did. Maybe he violated the spirit of the law but probably not the letter of it. And he still has made fewer recess appointments up to this point in his presidency than the presidents who came before him.

    I think it just shows, via the attitude, his snootiness.


    • Phillip Cleary permalink
      January 6, 2012 3:22 am

      I think you miss the point!


    • January 6, 2012 6:51 am

      If the Congress is still in session that he did violate the letter of the law. He may have made fewer recess appointments than those that came before him but he is the first president to make a recess appointment when the Congress wasn’t in recess.


      • The Georgia Yankee permalink
        January 6, 2012 8:52 am

        The Senate holds a meeting every few days, lasting less than a full minute. It doesn’t have a quorum and cannot do any business. The Senators are not in Washington, but in their home states. No real business is scheduled. But the minotiry party in the Senate says “We’re actually not in recess,” and this makes them “in session?”

        The Constitution gives the President the power to act when the Senate isn’t in session. I guess the framers realized that some idiot could play games like this, but I guess they also decided that those selected to be Senators wouldn’t be that juvenile, especially in the minority.

        Oh, well, they weren’t perfect – read the 12th Amendment sometime.

        Have a grand day and may God bless us all!



      • January 6, 2012 9:13 pm

        Neither the House nor the Senate can adjourn for more than three days without permission from the other, so technically according to the constitution the Congress is in fact still in session.
        I agree that this is political gamesmanship but it has been done in the past and Barack Obama was part of it when he was in the Senate, all presidents have honored it even though we all know what it is but Barack Obama was the first president to challenge this authority.
        And by the way, what happened to the rights of the minority that the Democrats talked about when Bush was president and they were in the minority? Back then they were all for protecting the rights of the minority.


  8. January 6, 2012 4:00 am

    Selections aren’t valid and will not be honored. What’s Barry going to do about it? Am I missing something? Is it more complicated than that? Congress was in session-end of conversation. Even Barry’s legal advisers agree with that.


    • January 6, 2012 6:52 am

      How is the Congress going to stop him? This board is funded by the federal reserve so the Congress cannot defund it unless they dissolve the federal reserve. They would have to take legal action and I am not sure they have the courage to do it.


      • lou222 permalink
        January 6, 2012 7:39 am

        Steve, Dr. Paul wants to abolish the Federal Reserve, doesn’t he? If this takes effect, there is a candidate that would not allow this. Obama is pushing to see how far he can go, not unlike other presidents. The question is, “will he be allowed to get away with it”? I guess you can find someone to argue the point either way on what he did. You are always going to have that. No, I do not think what he did was legal, I think it was a cheap shot taken and just something else that will have to be dealt with. At this point, I am sick of both of the parties. We put people in office that are supposed to uphold the law and BOTH parties find ways around that said law. People will accept what he has done and he will move on to the next conquest, it is as simple as that. He has an agenda and he is sticking to it. Is there anyone out there that will stop him? At this point, I seriously doubt it, they are all wanting to be reelected and that seems to be their main focus. We are only going to see more of the same, I fear.


      • January 6, 2012 9:17 pm

        Yes, Ron Paul does want to abolish the federal reserve, but do you think he can do it? I don’t think he can.
        You are right and I am also getting tired of the Republicans who claim they are one thing while running but the opposite when they are elected. Soon after they are elected they start looking at ways to get reelected.
        I have heard a few people in the Congress complain about this move but I doubt that they will do anything to stop this.


  9. January 6, 2012 5:12 am

    This piece typifies the subterfuge utilized by the socialist left to plant unpopular appointees in positions of influence; this is not new (as the article points-out) and has become prolific in the Obama White House. The extreme left is characterized by their ability to bend the ethical compass to complete objectives; all the while, moralizing the right with undue scrutiny. American’s are tired of the shenanigans. How much time, money and energy will be expended by the next administration attempting to undo the damage of the current administration? Much too much I imagine.


    • January 6, 2012 6:53 am

      Well said!


    • The Georgia Yankee permalink
      January 9, 2012 12:45 am

      Unpopular? You mean with the GOP minority in the Senate?


      • January 9, 2012 6:27 am

        We have to protect the rights of the minority, isn’t that what the Democrats said when they were in the minority and Bush was in power?


  10. January 6, 2012 8:05 am

    Heil Hitler, heir Obamanation…


    • The Georgia Yankee permalink
      January 6, 2012 8:56 am

      That’s an infamous, shameful remark. You should be ashamed of yourself.


  11. bunkerville permalink
    January 6, 2012 10:57 am

    It is the third party that is developing that I am worried about now. Skimming of a few percentage points could easly insure his re-election. Add that to the corruption of the election process, and this could be it. He will never leave the WH on his own,


    • The Georgia Yankee permalink
      January 6, 2012 1:46 pm

      Well, I think that’s a direct result of the constant search by some in the GOP for the ideal candidate. I agree with you that a third-party candidate generally hurts one of the major party candidates and helps the other, Ross Perot and Ralph Nader being the most visible examples. Nevertheless, knowing this, there will be people willing to start third-party movements for Ron Paul and for Rick Santorum, and perhaps even Newt Gingrich.

      We Dems, when we have primaries, usually have a pretty exuberant battle that sometimes lasts all the way to the convention, but we generally consolidate afterwards, licking our wounds and supporting the party’s nominee. Many of our candidates pledge to do so, in fact. Because we recognize (and Ralph Nader recently set out to prove us right) that disunity after the convention leads inevitably to a loss in November.

      My recommendation? Demand that every GOP candidate pledge to support the ultimate nominee and vow not to mount a third-party movement; if any candidate refuses to take the pledge, use it against him and refuse to vote for him. (If he’s not willing to pledge not to betray the party whose support he wants, he’s probably willing to betray the party even if he wins its nomination.)

      Have a wonderful weekend! Take good care and may God bless us all!



      • January 6, 2012 9:21 pm

        Yes the GOP is looking for the ideal candidate right now and that is what the primary system allows us to do. The question is will the party rally around the nominee afterwards and I do think they will if they are serious about defeating Barack Obama; I don’t see Santorum or Newt running third party and I don’t think that Paul will either because of the burden it would put on his son.


    • January 6, 2012 9:18 pm

      More than likely any third party run will hurt the Republicans and help Obama, I just don’t know if anyone will run that will get enough votes to change the election–at least I hope not.


  12. william wallace permalink
    January 6, 2012 11:56 pm

    The USA having long abandoned International law/ domestic law. The saying the
    “THE LUNATICS HAVING TAKEN OVER THE ASYLUM” at present being most apt.

    USA’s people in having been stripped of all rights. Any individual now be arrested
    imprisoned for any length of time / imprisoned without trial // being refused access
    unto a lawyer. If be a trial then such is under military law // the verdict being guilty.

    The nations wealth spent on an ever increasing military force / the aim being world
    domination / the USA supreme / all nations to bow before the USA / the New Mecca.

    Decades of Republican Brainwashing in having brought the USA unto moral decay
    unto financial ruin. Millions upon million of americans /reduced unto being beggers
    while the 24/7 republican media brainwashing machine / spinning out its lies deceit
    in declaring the USA the defender of freedom of democracy / where reality an USA
    its military as politicians have become the worlds worst known terrorist organization.


  13. CM Richard permalink
    January 8, 2012 3:28 pm

    I wish we could say this wasn’t typical of our leaders, but Obama in this instance and other administrations in the past have taken to bending the rules and twisting the system to get their way. The sad thing is we were promised total transparency by the Obama camp…at least with some other presidents you knew what you were getting.


    • lou222 permalink
      January 8, 2012 6:16 pm

      CM, it appears that promises are meant to be broken. I never bought it when it was said, so guess I do not fall into the catagory of people that were fooled. I do, however, know alot of people that voted for Obama that will NOT do it again, under any circumstances. That says alot, doesn’t it? We have crooks in both parties, it is getting harder and harder to tell them apart.


  14. January 8, 2012 7:38 pm

    The only travesty here is that it was not done sooner. Congress was in sessions for literally 45 seconds that day… It was a joke. Obama was finally empowering an agency CREATED BY CONGRESS in 2010. House Republicans are only opposing this because it will actually help lower income families (ie NOT their constituency). You want to talk about real abuse of power? How about Obama signing away due process? Does anyone in the house object to that? NO! Because they, like just about all politicians are not out to help the American people. Don’t pretend Obama is some Nazi dictator just because he made a recess appointment… If house republicans put half as much effort into reform as they do into maintaining status quo, maybe America would actually be the beacon of modernity it once was.


    • January 8, 2012 10:19 pm

      Please do not put words in my mouth, I did not call Barack Obama a Nazi dictator.
      I have written about Obama and the Republicans signing away due process, perhaps you should look around here.
      I suppose you opposed the Democrats as well when they used the pro forma Congress to stop Bush from making recess appointments as well?


      • The Georgia Yankee permalink
        January 9, 2012 12:49 am

        No. Steve, but someone else here made the comparison.

        Understand also – I didn’t oppose the Senate when it held pro forma sessions to prevent President Bush from making recess appointments, but it he’d displayed some stones and challenged the Senate as President Obama did, I’d have supported him because he would have been right.

        It’s kinda like not telling the umpire your guy didn’t step on second base when he ran out his triple. If there’s an appeal play and they call him out, you shrug and accept it, but if they don’t challenge it, you let the triple stand.

        And may God bless us all!



      • January 9, 2012 6:29 am

        I missed that.

        So you would support a person doing something that is wrong if you believe he is doing it for the right reasons?


      • The Georgia Yankee permalink
        January 9, 2012 11:16 am

        No, I obviously didn’t explain it clearly. But baseball is a good analogy. The rules say the triple stands even though the runner didn’t touch second base, unless the fielding team calls him on it. As a result, most home runs and extra-base hits are routinely followed by the fielding team tossing the ball around the horn, just in case . . .

        It’s similar in football, and there’ve been games that were won on errors and permitted to stand.

        It’s similar in the corporate world. One might think that large enterprises employ batteries of lawyers to keep them on the straight and narrow. Not so. Those lawyers exist to explain the law to the policy makers, but they do not exercise veto power. And the policy makers don’t always follow the legal guidance their lawyers give them. There are many people, myself among them, who believe that businesses make most of their decisions based on cost analyses, and if an action breaks the law, the cost of the violation is considered in comparison with the potential profit.

        I think the Senate, as an institution, considered the potential cost of gaming the system and decided to go ahead and do it because the benefits outweighed the potential cost. President Bush didn’t call them on it – in his estimation, the potential cost of duking it out with Harry Reid outweighed the benefit of getting his appointees confirmed. President Obama did call out the Senate because, in his estimation, the business of the people was being hampered by the Senate’s action, so the benefits of making the recess appointment outweighed the potential cost.

        Take good care and may God bless us all!



      • January 9, 2012 11:07 pm

        If I understand you correctly the Congress missed second base on its way to third and while Bush didn’t argue to overturn the call Obama did. But the Congress is following the rules so I would argue that they did touch second base and while we both agree that this rule is nothing but a political game it is a rule and it should be followed. Based on this Obama should lose his appeal to the umpire.



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