Obama goes off the deep end with recess appointments
The Kansas City Star
President Obama has signaled that his re-election strategy will rest on painting Congress as the villain. Given that the Senate remains in Democratic hands, one can only guess what vulnerable Democratic senators think about that.
Anyway, Obama’s latest move was to make four highly questionable recess appointments — questionable because the Senate remained in pro forma session. Recess appointments are supposed to occur during recesses.
As The Wall Street Journal notes, the Constitution says neither house can adjourn without the permission of the other body. The House did not give its consent for a Senate recess. A similar gambit was used by the Dems during the last two years of President Bush’s second term. At the time, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid argued that this tactic was a valid roadblock to any Bush recess appointments.
Bush declined to make any appointments, but now the shoe is on the other foot. Obama has done it and Reid is saying well sure, the president can do that. No problem. While some will argue that a pro forma session isn’t a real session, Obama has gratuitously provoked a potential constitutional crisis.
In his appointments, Obama named three people to the National Labor Relations Board and appointed Richard Cordray, five-time undefeated “Jeopardy” champ and former Ohio attorney general, as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The NLRB appointees were only identified three weeks ago and the Senate never even had an opportunity to hold hearings on their fitness. Never mind: Forget that “advice and consent” business in the Constitution.
As for Cordray, the Republicans’ beef seems less with him than with the structure of the agency, which will be a true run-amok bureaucracy. The agency isn’t even subject to the normal appropriations process. The director will set his own budget, with money drawn from Federal Reserve earnings. The CFPB is nominally under the Fed but the Fed can’t do much to hold it accountable. The CFPB budget could be as high as $500 million.
The bureau’s rules can be overturned by the Financial Stability Oversight Council, but that would take a two-thirds vote and one of the votes is the CFPB director. It’s going to be interesting to see what sort of unintended consequences flow from a rule-making body with so little accountability.