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Author Topic: Obama defies Congress with ‘recess’ picks
JWatts
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Another case of Obama's hypocrisy. When he was a Senator he was for a 3 day waiting period for recess appointments. Now that he's President, he completely ignores his earlier stance. His own Justice Department has indeed also confirmed this point of view.

quote:

President Obama used his recess appointment powers Wednesday to name a head for the controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three new members to the National Labor Relations Board — moves Republican lawmakers said amounted to an unconstitutional power grab.

The president acted just a day after the Senate held a session — breaking with at least three different precedents that said the Senate must be in recess for at least three days for the president to exercise his appointment power. Mr. Obama himself was part of two of those precedents, both during his time in the Senate and again in 2010 when one of his administration’s top constitutional lawyers made the argument for the three-day waiting period to the Supreme Court.

...
GOP House Speaker John A. Boehner called the move “an extraordinary and entirely unprecedented power grab by President Obama that defies centuries of practice and the legal advice of his own Justice Department.”

WT
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Wayward Son
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Of course he didn't wait for the Senate to be in recess for three days since they aren't in "recess" now--and apparently haven't been in "recess" for the last few weeks, just to prevent him from doing this.

quote:
In strikingly sharp language, Republicans said the Senate considers itself still in session for the express purpose of blocking recess appointments, and the move threatened to become a declaration of war against Congress.
So they pretend to be in session (while everyone has gone home for the holidays) and then are shocked--shocked!--that Obama goes ahead and treats them like they are in recess. Horrible! [Roll Eyes]

Congress is supposed to Advise and Consent, not Stonewall. It's about time he called their bluff. [Mad]

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TomDavidson
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Yeah, the Republicans did this to themselves.
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JWatts
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I tend to agree that the Senate's pseudo recesses shouldn't count and I think that Obama's action is probably Constitutional.

However, that doesn't change the fact that Obama is a blatant hypocrite. He supported the policy when he was in the Senate and it was used to block any recess appointments by Bush after November 2007.


quote:
In early 2007, shortly after Democrats took control of the Senate, President George W. Bush made several recess appointments. But in November 2007, Senate Democrats did not formally recess before going home for Thanksgiving. Instead, they stayed in “pro forma” session, sending a member into the chamber every three days to bang the gavel.

Senate Democrats repeated the move during breaks for the rest of Mr. Bush’s presidency, and Mr. Bush did not try to make any further recess appointments.

Is Obama's recess appointment Constitutional? Probably.

Is Obama's recess appointment the right thing? Yes.

Is he a hypocrite for supporting the blocking of Bush's recess appointments while he was in the Senate, but changing tactics now that he is President? Yes.

At the very least he could apologize for his previous support of the tactic.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Is he a hypocrite for supporting the blocking of Bush's recess appointments while he was in the Senate, but changing tactics now that he is President? Yes.
Not necessarily. It's possible that he generally respects Congress' right to block appointments, but in this particular case -- as it represents their attempt to completely stonewall an important oversight group demanded by the American people, and one that was a cornerstone of his campaign -- is frustrated enough to run around it.

It's also worth noting that Congress hasn't actually been in session for days. He may feel that simply sending some lackey to bang a gavel in order to continue stonewalling executive appointments does not actually count as being in session, and that they've really been in recess for well over a week.

[ January 04, 2012, 06:25 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Pyrtolin
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The Senate has effectively been in recess since Dec 23. The does challenge the practice of using proforma sessions as a constitutional runaround, and really has been a long time coming. It's a shame he didn't address any of the other highly understaffed positions (especially judicial nominations), but at least he hit positions that address some of the worst problems that we're facing today.
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JWatts
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The Democratic Senate of 2006 used the identical tactic against Bush for 2 years. Obama was a Senator and supported those tactics.

He's a hypocrite.

"but in this particular case... is frustrated enough to run around it."

Absolutely. In this particular case, he's the President.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
At the very least he could apologize for his previous support of the tactic.
I'll agree that it wouldn't hurt to explain why he changed his mind on the subject, but the fact is that most people don't care, and most of those that do understand the situation well enough to know what likely changed his mind.

To be hypocritical, though, the action and the contrasting belief would have had to occur at the same time, not at very different times.

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
To be hypocritical, though, the action and the contrasting belief would have had to occur at the same time, not at very different times.

So as soon as he became President he gets a free pass on everything he said and did as Senator, because it's a 'very different time'? Horse hockey.
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djquag1
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Trust me JWatts, nobody is more disappointed in Obama acting like a Republican then I am. I feel for the conservatives in 06 who said they didn't really like Bush, but Kerry was by far the greater evil.

If the Democrats were really using the fake sessions during the holiday recess to stand off Bush's appointments, then they were in the wrong. Forgive me for not completely taking them to task yet. I want to make sure its not another filibuster comparison. You know, how Republicans filibustering EVERYTHING was okay because the Dems also made use of it, if a hell of a lot less.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
To be hypocritical, though, the action and the contrasting belief would have had to occur at the same time, not at very different times.

So as soon as he became President he gets a free pass on everything he said and did as Senator, because it's a 'very different time'? Horse hockey.
So long as they don't just flip their position based on convenience, everyone, with the benefit of experience, should be expected to change their minds in accordance with that experience and not pilloried for past ignorance.
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Grant
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Pilloried no. We demand seppuku. At least summimasen.
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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
To be hypocritical, though, the action and the contrasting belief would have had to occur at the same time, not at very different times.

So as soon as he became President he gets a free pass on everything he said and did as Senator, because it's a 'very different time'? Horse hockey.
So long as they don't just flip their position based on convenience, everyone, with the benefit of experience, should be expected to change their minds in accordance with that experience and not pilloried for past ignorance.
Indeed. One of the worst legacies of Rovian politics is the meme that "flip-flopping" is somehow a weakness or detriment. To be able to change one's position based on new evidence is a rare indicator of intellectual honesty and effective reasoning. Its insane that we consider this a weakness.

That said, thats not what is going on here. Obama just got tired of waiting. I can give him a pass considering the unprecedented degree of obstructionism he's facing, coupled with the fact that his opponents are nakedly shilling for corporate interests, but its still not a principled change of positions. If anything, the executive is far too powerful; the principled approach would be to structurally weaken the power of the presidency (not that caving to current GOP tactics would accomplish that.)

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by djquag1:
If the Democrats were really using the fake sessions during the holiday recess to stand off Bush's appointments, then they were in the wrong.

As I said above, I agree. I don't fault what Obama did, I fault him for being a two faced hypocrite who did a 180 degree turn when he went from Senator to President.

As to the bovine scatalogy argument that he's changed his mind due to knew insight, I point the reader to the fact that his very own Justice Department came out two years ago in favor of NOT performing recess appointments within 10 days of adjournment.

The whole administration is run with the attitude the End justifies the Means.

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
So long as they don't just flip their position based on convenience, everyone, with the benefit of experience, should be expected to change their minds in accordance with that experience and not pilloried for past ignorance.

Sure, just like he changed his position on the Guantanamo Bay detention center, targeted killings of Americans, extraordinary rendition, keeping troops in Iraq till 2011, etc.

Obama must have been a complete neophyte before he became President to have so many reversals of opinion.

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AI Wessex
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If so, I wonder where they learned it? It's not becoming to whine when Obama finally starts playing with the same rules the GOP has been using to emasculate him for 3 years. Like a lot of people I wish he had grown a pair a lot sooner, but better late than never.
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Greg Davidson
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(1) Hypocrisy is a lesser moral issue than the unprecedented level of obstructionism committed by the Republican Party since 2009
(2) Hypocrisy is morally justified in this case. Obama is responding to tactics that are seeking to undermine the law of the land with respect to the Consumer Board - the Republicans have been disingenuously opposing nominees in order to impede a governmental organization that they dislike (since some of its powers require a Director for implementation). I don't have any problem with Obama taking legal actions to fight this intransigence, and in fact, I find his actions morally preferable to inaction.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
As I said above, I agree. I don't fault what Obama did, I fault him for being a two faced hypocrite who did a 180 degree turn when he went from Senator to President.

Except, per your quote above, he was still supporting the use of pro forma session as recently as 2010. So it didn't happen as soon as he becomes president.

quote:
changed his position on the Guantanamo Bay detention center
He failed to achieve his objective there because Congress sandbagged him; that's not changing position.

quote:
targeted killings of Americans
Was there a previous position to compare to here?

quote:
extraordinary rendition
He's put policies in place regarding oversight for rendition that at least limit extreme rendition, so even if he's fallen short, he hasn't reversed himself.

quote:
keeping troops in Iraq till 2011
The troops are out. He certainly didn't fight to keep them in Iraq, which is the bare minimum that he'd have needed to do to qualify as reversing himself here rather than simply being able to meet a given timeline.

In any case, the measure for hypocrisy would stand at whether his future stances are determined by who has power rather than evidence as to the best position to take.

quote:
t to have so many reversals of opinion
A small handful of changes is hardly a significant quantity.
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JWatts
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Yes, I know the End Justifies the Means. Got it. Check.
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Chael
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From the LA Times:

quote:

The procedural snarl comes on top of a bitterly waged substantive fight over the consumer bureau. Several Republicans have spoken highly of Cordray, but 44 GOP senators said last year they would block any nominee to the agency until changes were made to reduce its powers. That fight was part of an overall effort by Republicans to roll back parts of the 2010 financial reform law of which the consumer agency was a centerpiece.

Cordray's nomination got 53 votes last month, a majority, but short of the 60 needed to end a filibuster. Just one Republican, Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, voted with Democrats in his favor. Brown announced support of Cordray's appointment Wednesday. He is seeking reelection and is likely to be running against Democrat Elizabeth Warren, the liberal favorite who was largely credited with creating the new consumer bureau.

The impasse had stalled the bureau's ability to issue rules governing finance companies, payday lenders and mortgage brokers. The agency formally opened in July and took over existing government authority to regulate banks. But the law said it could not regulate other consumer finance industries until an agency director was in place.


The article has more information on the 'why's of it all than the original one posted. Ah, power struggles.
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AI Wessex
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JWatts, for comparison I read the following statistics about the number of recess appointments made by recent Presidents. What do you think of this comparison?

Name: total/per year
Obama: 29/9
Bush: 171/21
Clinton: 139/17
Bush I: 77/19
Reagan: 243/30

It looks like every Republican made more recess appointments per year than any Democrat. Whose ends justify whose means?

We can next look at filibustered appointments, bench vacancies and some other comparative statistics, if you like.

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Grant
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Scientific evidence found that proves Republicans fart during coitus much more often then Democrats! Tonight on Action News at 5!
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JWatts
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Yes, Al. And due tell me how many recess appointments that Bush had after the Democrats took the Senate in 2007 and started ensuring that the Senate was always in session?

Oh, yeah that would be zero.

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Grant:
Scientific evidence found that proves Republicans fart during coitus much more often then Democrats! Tonight on Action News at 5!

[Big Grin] It's never good to take yourself too seriously. [Razz]
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AI Wessex
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So, you're saying that Bush made all those recess appointments before the Democrats took the Senate? The man was on a roll!

But you realize you're ducking the question. Obama has made *FEWER* recess appointments no matter how you count them than any President since Reagan. Shouldn't you be praising him for his self-constraint?

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TomDavidson
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That's what gets me. Obama's made fewer recess appointments than any president in twenty years -- at the same time he's had a larger percentage of his attempted appointments blocked than any president in history -- and JWatts is accusing him of being hypocritical about his stated dislike of recess appointments.

Look, I'll accuse Obama of hypocrisy -- and cowardice -- on a number of issues, but this is one in which his stated position seems perfectly in keeping with his actual behavior.

[ January 04, 2012, 10:22 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
Yes, Al. And due tell me how many recess appointments that Bush had after the Democrats took the Senate in 2007 and started ensuring that the Senate was always in session?

Oh, yeah that would be zero.

And that would be irrelevant, because during that time the Republicans held to the Gang of 14 deal and helped break filibusters over nominees, so the important positions were filled without the need to make as many recess appointments.
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Greg Davidson
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Speaking of being wrong

quote:
the End Justifies the Means
is a 16th century mis-translation of what Machiavelli actually wrote
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velcro
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JWatts wrote
quote:
Obama was a Senator and supported those tactics.
I am not saying you are wrong, but do you have a source? If 3 Senators sat in a room keeping a pro forma session, what did Obama do to "support" that? Silence is not support, and as far as I know, silence is all there is. Please show me otherwise, or you have no case.

As far as the 2010 issue, his administration supported a 10 day delay. The REAL session ended 12/23. You do the math.

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JWatts
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It really amuses me that the majority of the posters keep arguing that Obama has to use this tactic to overcome Republican obstructionism. What you are not mentioning is that the Senate is currently run by Democrats. They control the adjournment process.

quote:

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). They’ve tried. (And Republicans may try again with legal challenges.)

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) earns the blame — or credit — for trying to block recess appointments. Starting in Nov. 2007 through the end of Bush’s presidency, he ordered the Senate to meet in pro-forma sessions, or short meetings, over the holidays and traditional summer and spring recesses. No official business was conducted during the brief sessions and the move prevented Bush from making any recess appointments through the end of his presidency.

(Continuing the practice during the Obama years, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) even had to gavel in a 22-second pro-forma session across the street from the U.S. Capitol last summer on the day of the Washington earthquake.)

WTs

Obama's recess appointments aren't being blocked by the GOP they are being blocked by Harry Reid.

Here is the Senates schedule :
12/23/2011 - called to order by the Honorable Mark Warner (D)
12/27/2011 - called to order by the Honorable Harry Reid (D)
12/30/2011 - called to order by the Honorable JACK REED (D)
01/03/2012 - called to order by the Honorable Mark R. Warner (D)

Do you notice a pattern?

So to allow President Obama to make recess appointments the Democrats in the Senate would have to agree to it. Apparently they don't trust the President's decisions. There is no love lost between the Senatorial Democrats and the White House.

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by velcro:
As far as the 2010 issue, his administration supported a 10 day delay. The REAL session ended 12/23. You do the math.

As I stated before (twice now), I don't agree with this practice of Pro Forma Senatorial sessions. I think Obama was right to bypass them. What I object to is that Obama supported this policy when he was a Senator and Bush was President. It's the politics of convenience.

quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
Speaking of being wrong

quote:
the End Justifies the Means
is a 16th century mis-translation of what Machiavelli actually wrote
I wasn't quoting Machiavelli, I was quoting Trostsky. [DOH]
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TCB
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quote:
So to allow President Obama to make recess appointments the Democrats in the Senate would have to agree to it. Apparently they don't trust the President's decisions. There is no love lost between the Senatorial Democrats and the White House.
JWatts, that's an almost shockingly disingenuos claim. If Democrats want to block Obama's appointments, why are they happy about the recess appointments, while Republicans are outraged?
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by TCB:
JWatts, that's an almost shockingly disingenuos claim. If Democrats want to block Obama's appointments, why are they happy about the recess appointments, while Republicans are outraged?

Let's rephrase that:
Why are Democratic Senators gaveling the Senate into session every 3 days?

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:
Congress is supposed to Advise and Consent, not Stonewall. It's about time he called their bluff. [Mad]

Obama has assumed the power to decide for Congress when it is and is not in recess. It's 100% unconstitutional for the President to determine the status of the Senate. If you want the executive branch to have this power, you're essentially advocating the dissolution of the Senate or at the least making it irrelevant. Don't like what they're doing? Just declare them as in recess and do whatever you want. Brilliant.

You think this a a good expansion of power for the executive branch to have? Will you be supportive of it when the next president, perhaps a Republican or a conservative, has this power and simply declares the Senate out of session to make its appointments to the Supreme Court or other positions?

This is unconstitutional no matter how you slice it and one of the biggest power grabs in US history. If it stands, then the balance of power between legislative and executive branches is effectively eliminated.

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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
I wasn't quoting Machiavelli, I was quoting Trostsky. [DOH]

You sure it wasn't Ovid? [Big Grin]

I'm not sure what 16th century mistranslation you are referring to, Greg. Is it your position that Machiavelli did not espouse a utilitarian ethical stance in "The Prince".

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
It really amuses me that the majority of the posters keep arguing that Obama has to use this tactic to overcome Republican obstructionism. What you are not mentioning is that the Senate is currently run by Democrats. They control the adjournment process.

The framework must be maintained. Truth is irrelevant.
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yossarian22c
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AI Wessex answered this on a previous thread (Poll for economy fix).

quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
"With the exception of Mr. Becker, the White House said most of the 15 nominees being installed by Mr. Obama have bipartisan support."

Isn't it a little odd that Obama had to make recess appointments for positions where the candidates had bi-partisan support? Shouldn't those appointments have made it through the normal confirmation process?

Here's one analysis for why they would not have:
quote:
Obama entered the White House believing that he could break the 20-year cycle of partisan appointment obstruction. Instead, nominee abuse and confirmation obstruction substantially worsened. For 30 months, even the most qualified nominees were slow-walked, held hostage and filibustered. Obstruction reached absurdity in May, when pre-emptive filibusters were lodged against "any" potential director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

A separate battle front opened with congressional attempts to block Obama's recess appointments. In fall 2010, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) agreed to schedule pro forma sessions to block Obama's recess appointments. (In exchange, Republicans agreed to lift filibusters on 54 nominees.) Reid first used sham sessions in 2007, to bluff President George W. Bush. Just as Bush did, Obama disregarded outside advice to call the Senate's procedural bluff.

Unfortunately, Obama's choice not to push back against the sham sessions may have been perceived as capitulation by opponents. Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.) repeatedly boasts that 77 GOP freshmen successfully made a written demand that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) "hit the kill switch" to prevent the Senate from recessing. The newest members of the lower chamber acted to, as Landry put it, "halt the exploitation of the recess appointment process."

Fulfilling their threat that the pro forma sessions are "just the beginning" of a prolonged assault against Obama's appointments, Tea Party freshmen forced the House to pass (patently unconstitutional) legislation to cancel salary payments of certain Obama recess appointees. The House freshmen vow to keep Congress in session for the remainder of 2011, and throughout 2012, because, as Landry put it, "the Senate's advice and consent is being circumvented by a hostile Administration." They brazenly manipulate both chambers' schedules to "provide the Senate the ability to perform their constitutional duties."

As of September 2010:
quote:
A determined Republican stall campaign in the Senate has sidetracked so many of the men and women nominated by President Barack Obama for judgeships that he has put fewer people on the bench than any president since Richard Nixon at a similar point in his first term 40 years ago.

The delaying tactics have proved so successful, despite the Democrats' substantial Senate majority, that fewer than half of Obama's nominees have been confirmed and 102 out of 854 judgeships are vacant.

Forty-seven of those vacancies have been labeled emergencies by the judiciary because of heavy caseloads.

Overall (July 2011):
quote:
As of this week, 62% of Obama's circuit and district court nominees have been confirmed, according to statistics compiled by the American Constitution Society. At the conclusion of their presidencies, George W. Bush's confirmation success was 70%; Clinton's was and 84%.
Obstructionism, what obstructionism?


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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Obama has assumed the power to decide for Congress when it is and is not in recess. It's 100% unconstitutional for the President to determine the status of the Senate.
Except, of course, for the fact the declaring Congress to be in recess is an explicitly granted Constitutional power of the President.

[ January 05, 2012, 11:51 AM: Message edited by: Pyrtolin ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
quote:
Originally posted by TCB:
JWatts, that's an almost shockingly disingenuos claim. If Democrats want to block Obama's appointments, why are they happy about the recess appointments, while Republicans are outraged?

Let's rephrase that:
Why are Democratic Senators gaveling the Senate into session every 3 days?

Because the House won't vote to let them recess. Procedurally, each house needs the permission of the other to fully recess, and the president has the explicit power to fully recess them if they can't properly handle it themselves.
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Pyrtolin
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Additionally- even a basic daily motion to adjourn in the Senate in the senate requires either unanimous consent, or a floor vote, which makes it subject to a filibuster. The chair has no direct authority to call any kind of recess, so any one Senator that wishes to block a recess is capable of doing so for a period of at least a few days to run through the filibuster process, and even longer if 60 Senators don't agree to let the motion make it to a vote.
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