For those who had hoped that President Obama would be making some key appointments while Congress was in recess, I hate to break it to you, but it’s not going to happen. That’s because Senate Democrats agreed to a demand by Senate Republicans to hold pro-forma sessions of the Senate every week for the next six weeks. According to Senate rules, the move prevents President Obama from making emergency appointments because Congress is technically “in session” at the time.
While much of the coverage of the deal has been cast as a capitulation by Democrats, to call it such is a bit misleading. Sen. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) had threatened to send back most, if not all, of President Obama’s nominees to committee if the sessions did not occur. That would have forced the president to resubmit the nominees to the Senate and Democrats to start their confirmation process (including hearings) all over again.
In the real world we call this extortion. In the Senate it’s called business as usual.
The President had more than 110 executive and judicial branch nominees pending on the Senate’s executive calendar as of Wednesday afternoon. So far only 54 of President Obama’s nominees have been approved by the Senate. These include positions like U.S. attorneys (six total) and U.S. Marshals (11 total).
That means that Senate Republicans have refused to put cops on the street (that is, after all, who a U.S. Marshal is), and prosecutors in office. Want immigration laws enforced and think the federal government needs to step up enforcement? Well, let Sen. McConnell know because right now his actions are the reason we don’t have the manpower necessary to do those jobs.
photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Flickr