The Hoopla Over Recess Appointments

Let’s all be political conservatives, and ask the no-nonsense, rural, heartland-approved question: to be considered at work, do you actually have to be doing any work? If a farmer in Illinois drove out to a field and punched a time-clock once every three days (because a lawyer told him in 1993 that punching that clock was the definition of working his fields), would that get the job done?

That is the question on display in this week’s artificially manufactured Obama controversy. The Constitution clearly allows the President to make recess appointments. President Obama has clearly made fewer of them than any of his recent predecessors of either party. Republicans claim that the President’s move was unconstitutional because they are not in recess.

This is the memo describing today’s Senate session (that was not, according to the GOP, in recess):

The Senate met in pro forma session to convene the second session of the 112th Congress at 12:01:32 p.m., and adjourned at 12:02:13 p.m. until 11 a.m., on Friday, January 6, 2012.

The Senate met for 41 seconds today. The same party whose head exploded as they impeached a president for asking an attorney to define the word “is”, is now threatening to sue or impeach the President for not considering a 41 second day a work day. Just for interest, here is the day put in by the House:

12:02 P.M. – The Speaker announced that the House do now adjourn pursuant to section 4(c) of H. Res. 493. The next meeting is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on January 6, 2012
12:01 P.M. – ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE CHAIR – Pursuant to section 4(a) of House Resolution 493, 112th Congress, the Chair announced that no organizational or legislative business will be conducted on this day.
12:01 P.M. – PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE – The Chair led the Members in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
12:00 P.M. – Today’s prayer was offered by the House Chaplain, Rev. Patrick J. Conroy.

The House at least worked for 2 minutes on the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer. Go team!

Speaking on doing one’s work in the democracy, the reason that Barack Obama has felt the need to make the appointments is because the Senate is not doing their constitutional job. Almost 200 important positions in the Executive Branch have yet to be filled, not because the President hasn’t made appointments, and certainly not because the Senate has voted against the appointments. These positions are open because individual senators have placed holds on nominees, stopping the democracy from working as the Framers intended.

The Constitution gives the Senate, as a whole, the responsibility to give “advice and consent” to the President’s nominees, not to sit on their thumbs and whine about the number of seats the other party holds. But then the Constitution doesn’t seem to matter to GOP politicians as much as it matters to the folks they represent.

The President appointed a director to the new federal entity charged with exercising some control over the bankers whose “genius” sunk our economy. He also appointed members to the National Labor Relations Board, an entity who has literally come to a standstill thanks to the obstructionism of the Republicans in the Senate who don’t want it to exist.

Just another terrible day of the President doing his job, and the GOP members in Congress thinking theirs is to hold press conferences, Presidential nominees, and their breath.


The Rational Middle is listening…