President Obama is facing all kinds of pressure to take advantage of his recess-appointment powers next week, most notably with Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
At this point, however, the decision is not his to make. In order for the president to make recess appointments, there would need to be a recess. The Senate is, to be sure, breaking for Memorial Day, but it will still technically be in session.
The Senate will stay in pro forma session next week after failing to agree Thursday to adjourn for its scheduled weeklong Memorial Day recess.
Senate Budget ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) threatened this week to block any unanimous consent request to adjourn because Senate Democrats had not offered a budget resolution for a floor vote. Other Republican Senators were also fighting adjournment to prevent President Barack Obama from making recess appointments.
This is a tactic congressional Democrats used during the last two years of the Bush/Cheney administration, and then dropped after President Obama took power.
Rumor has it there’s still a Democratic majority in the Senate, but the GOP-led House is considering a plan to not send an adjournment resolution to the Senate, and either way, Senate Republicans object to the unanimous consent agreement that’s required to adjourn.
Ergo, there will be no literal recess and no opportunities for recess appointments.
And while that blocks Obama’s options next week, the larger question is what happens the next time Congress is ready for a scheduled break. There are some Republicans who are mulling a plan to prevent the president from being able to make another recess appointment for the duration of his presidency, even if he wins a second term.
Something to keep an eye on.