BRING ON THE RECESS APPOINTMENTS…. As of last week, there are about 240 administration nominees waiting for a vote in the Senate, an almost comically ridiculous number given how long they’ve been waiting. On Thursday, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) tried to move about a third of them as a bloc — all of whom had had already been through the vetting process, and been approved by the relevant committee — but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused.
McConnell didn’t have a good reason, except to say his feelings were hurt when the White House gave a recess appointment to Craig Becker to serve on the National Labor Relations Board earlier this year. Last week was McConnell’s way of saying he holds a grudge — and doesn’t much care if the federal government has the personnel in place to function as it’s supposed to.
With that in mind, don’t be too surprised if President Obama, left with little choice, makes some recess appointments during Congress’ Memorial Day recess.
“The president is naturally frustrated at another work period ending with a record-breaking number of nominations bottled on the floor, and he will consider next steps over the course of the coming days,” a White House aide said. […]
Congressional aides have suggested Obama may use this week to circumvent the Senate confirmation process and clear at least some of the more than 100 names lingering on the executive calendar. Obama has used his recess appointment powers just once, clearing 15 names in March.
It’s not just scandalous Republican obstructionism that’s the problem here, though that’s clearly part of it. There’s also the matter of limited Senate floor time left this year, and the fact that, with GOP filibusters on practically everything and everyone, it takes 30 hours for the chamber to vote on one nominee, even if he or she will end up being confirmed easily.
The government has important government offices that need qualified officials. The country need not suffer because Republicans have broken the Senate. Recess appointments are far from ideal — I’ve really never cared for them — but I just don’t see how the GOP has left with the White House with any other choice.
President Obama has two options: allow key posts to remain vacant indefinitely in the face of unprecedented obstructionism, or start embracing recess appointments. I reluctantly endorse the latter.