The Recess Appointment Dance: When the Shoe is on the Other Foot

By February 4, 2010Labor Unions

CQ Politics reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is contemplating the use of recess appointments to place President Obama’s nominees into office without a vote of the Senate. The possibility of recess appointments becomes much more relevant with the swearing in of Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) and Republican opposition to the nomination of labor lawyer Scott Becker to the National Labor Relations Board.

From “Recess Appointments Eyed To Surmount GOP Filibusters of Nominees“:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid , D-Nev., said Thursday he may be forced to support the hardball tactic unless some of the chamber’s Republicans consent and let nominees through. Once Republican Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts is sworn in at 5 p.m. Thursday, the minority will have 41 votes — enough to sustain a filibuster.

“What alternative do we have? What alternative do we have?” Reid asked.

In 2007 and 2008, President Bush’s attempts to make recess appointments — including his nominees to the National Labor Relations Board — were blocked when the Majority Leader instituted regular pro forma sessions of the Senate.

Indeed, President Bush’s recess appointments and threats of recess appointments provoked expressions of outrage from the majority Senate Democrats. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was especially adamant in his opposition.

From CQ Today, Aug. 2, 2007:

“There will be no recess appointments on my committee or they will not get another single nominee for anything at all from the Committee on Foreign Relations,” [Sen. Joe] Biden declared. “I made that clear to the secretary of State. Absolutely, positively clear. Not a one. Mark me down. Not a one.”

Biden is now Vice President of the United States.

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