Senate GOP Blocks Recess Appointments

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


Claire M.
Claire M7 years ago

Regardless of the less harmful choice the fact remains that the Republican party is holding our senate hostage. They are undermining your ability to choose how our government is run and I for one am fed up with it.

In some countries this kind of behavior might even be considered a coup.

Mary L.
Mary L7 years ago

Where to begin? The GOP has poisoned the waters of civility for the past 30 years yet they cry "Foul" on the Democrats! Have we forgotten all the scandals of the Clinton years: Travelgate, Whitewater, Vince Foster suicide, Monica, etc.? remember the 11 o'clock news coverage of the hundreds of bankers' boxes of "evidence" brought to Congress by ken Starr? When little stuck, they resorted to the "appearance of impropriety" - the smoke-and-mirrors accusations.

Double all of that for Obama. These guys want power back so they can continue to reward corporations for whom they expect to work once out of office. Remember Matthew Scully, Medicare and Medicaid exec, who shamelessly went to work for a health related company within a week of the passage of the Medicare Prescription Drug bill in Nov. 2003?

Special interests are NOT unions who speak for workers; they are big money execs who speak for Big Money!

Craig C.
Craig C7 years ago

A recess appointment is like what happened with my local AFL-CIO when i asked to speak with the union president about donations to Obama in the millions did she get the approval from us the members, i don't recall any union meeting about how we felt!!!! When asked why that money was not spent toward the people who had retired, you know give them dental, eye Quote from her it's none of my business "REALLY" when i asked her who pays her salary she walked away, same people who boycott walmart, i asked if i could walk the line now that i will be retiring she said we can't pay union wages for that, that is how they feel towards we the people who pay their wages. So no there should be none of these period.

Diana S.
Diana S7 years ago

Note to John T.:
"Obviously, you are NOT a History Major.... 1st, Congress was NEVER supposed to meet more than about 12 to 14 weeks in any year. In fact, salaries for Congress are just barely 100 years old.Prior to that, they received a stipend and reimbursements for the hotel rooms while in the capital." (your words)

The first congress didn't have to meet more than 12-14 weeks a year, because running the small federal government did not require a full time legislature. There was no federal income tax until FDR's administration, either.

In 1965, when most of my immediate family moved from New Jersey to California, there was no income tax in Jersey. Also, in the 50s and 60s, my parents would pay our bills, including all our medical bills, in cash (or by personal check). We weren't rich, we were middle class, as were our friends and neighbors.

So, if you're the great historian, tell me, WHAT HAPPENED??? Besides the voters allowing our elected officials to control their own remuneration, citizens evading their responsibility to vote, special interest groups buying our legislators' votes with their financial contributions, more tax dollars being spent on convicted, incarcerated criminals than most of us working slobs EARN, I mean?!?

How about the fact that you cannot sue a town, county, city, state, or federal government, agency, or elected official UNLESS THEY LET YOU?!?!?

I'm ready to vote for anarchy and an Uzi, and screw government altogether!!!

Rand Martin
Rand Martin7 years ago

Why are the republicans so worried about re taking the senate. With the continued help of the blue dog democrats, they already have it. This is why nothing is getting done. Will the democrats stand up and say no if the republicans get a majority or will they continue to be the lap dogs they so obviously are. The laws that allow stupid people to vote will be the death of America.

Aludra Nyx
susan m7 years ago

I have read that most of the world considers american voters to be ignorant, reluctantly I must agree. Scores of 'middle class' (not wealthy) continue to vote against themselves by voting Rep. We had 16 years of bush bs, and yet they continue to blame obama for the current mess. No one, even with extensive effort, could create this much of a mess in less than 2 yrs. Can't people give this guy at least one term to try to dig out of it before condemn him? Repubs act like they are the answer, does everyone have amnesia or what? The repubs are the reason that obama was voted in, put them back in charge and it will just be more of what we were trying to get away from. They even admit they are basically the same (ones who got us into this).

Unfortunately I suspect a big part of the objection to obama is race related - are we EVER going to get past bigotry? A muslim, oh come on, is that the best they can do,, it is clearly just an attempt to get people to see him as 'the other'... black and a muslim, sounds like a recipe for hate, which is what they are really spewing. How about we dump both major parties as they have proven they cannot be trusted and have sold us out. Why not give the libertarians a chance, I believe they actually do respect the constitution,, or the green party, maybe our environment might not be destroyed in the interest of corporate greed. The Dems and Reps want you to believe they are the only choices available,,, but they are wrong. Really want

william foster
william foster7 years ago

How to disable a president. could it be his own party doesn't trust him

Craig C.
Craig C7 years ago

Linda that was the TARP for 700 bil not the stimulus and half of that was not spent before the one took office, need i remind you who told bush we had to do this and now. Hank paulson from where? Goldman Sacs would that not set off a alarm bell. And what did these banks do with the money they received oh thats right they paid it back and sooner then expected, up until the tarp there were no bail outs for anybody, which happened in sept-08 right before the election. Just to set it straight bush is and will always be part of the problem he is a progressive and that is where the problem lies.

Linda Sena7 years ago

The American people need to review the reasons why this country is in the dire economic state that it is. This all started under the Bush administration with the support of the Republican controlled congress. Over an eight year period the surplus left by the Clinton administration was depleted,leaving us drowning in red ink. Also, remember that the stimulus package that President Obama and the Democrats are being blamed for was initiated by Bush and his team of advisors. Since Obama won the Presidency, Republicans have done nothing to help get this country on track. The Repubican party of "NO" controls all elected officials under their party and strong arms them into their regime. They thwart any attempts to work bi -partisian to rescue OUR Country. We have to ask ourselves why they are doing this. Obviously, it is not for the good of the country. Do they really believe that obstructing President Obama's appointments will accomplish anything but more division? All of you that agree with this need to remember what the Bush administration did. President Bush had this down to an art. Why did you not critcize it then. It's okay for Bush but not Obama? No, no, no. How in the hell do you ever expect this country to recover if every effort to move forward is blocked by the Republican party. The party being funded by Wall Street, big banks, financial institution and the rich. Vote the hypocrites out and put in representatives that will work for the America people, NOT the party!

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L7 years ago

Why the hell did the Dems agree to this?!?!