Recess appointments are, in and of themselves, constitutionally dubious. But at least prior administrations have had the decency to make such appointments when Congress actually was in recess. This administration doesn’t even bother with such quaint formalities.
White House attorneys have concluded they have the legal authority to make a recess appointment despite Republican efforts to block the move, Democrats said Tuesday, and administration officials say they reserve the option to install Richard Cordray as head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau without Senate approval.
Some expect that appointment to come as early as Wednesday, when PresidentBarack Obama goes to Mr. Cordray’s home state of Ohio to talk about the economy. He’ll be at Shaker Heights High School outside Cleveland.
Mr. Cordray’s nomination has stalled in the Senate due to opposition from Republicans, who say they will not confirm anyone to the post until changes are made to the bureau’s structure. Mr. Obama and his aides have signaled for weeks that he would use his authority to bypass the Senate by giving Mr. Cordray, former Ohio attorney general, a recess appointment. Last month, the Senate voted 53-45 to take up the Cordray nomination, falling short of the 60 votes needed to move ahead.
Senate Republicans have tried to prevent the White House from acting by keeping the Senate technically in “pro forma” session until senators return to Washington later this month.
One way around the GOP maneuvering would have been for the White House to appoint Mr. Cordray during the short window in between congressional sessions. That window was open Tuesday morning, and some expected Mr. Obama to act then. But he didn’t, and administration officials maintained that they still have all options on the table.
That’s because the White House has concluded that it can make the appointment even if the Senate has not formally recessed, said one Democrat familiar with White House thinking. “They have decided no one can stop them.”
Sadly, as infuriating as that last part is, will anyone really bother to stop them?
The fact that Obama eschewed an opportunity to make a legitimate recess appointment today in favor of this grandstanding gesture indicates that he’s basically just taunting Congress now. As Drew M points out, this is nothing more than a political ploy.
Obama would love it if the GOP House actually tried to impeach him. Failing that, his sticking it to the GOP will please his base.
The challenge for the GOP in Congress will be to fight enough to please the base and check Obama but not give him the mud slinging fight he wants/needs. I doubt it’s something they will be able to pull off.
Ultimately this is the small ball politics Obama will have to play since he can’t actually run on his record. And if has to shred the Constitution in the process? What’s the Constitution compared to a God Who Walks Amongst Us?
Remember how the left cried about Bush “shredding” the Constitution? Crocodile tears.