“[T]he Senate has a responsibility to dispose of these nominations,” Obama senior adviser David Axelrod says in an interview that will air Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Related: Obama to make 15 recess appointments
Axelrod adds that the White House is “in a position where the Republican Party has taken a position where they're going to try and slow and block progress on all fronts, whether it's legislation or appointments.”
The Obama adviser tells CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley that the previous administration had far fewer appointees awaiting Senate confirmation at the comparable point in former President George W. Bush’s first term.
“We have 77 appointees who have not gotten the vote because they have been held up by the Republican Party,” Axelrod tells Crowley. “Some of them are in very sensitive positions - Treasury, Homeland Security, and boards like the Labor Relations Board . . . where there are a huge number of vacancies.”
Much of the controversy over Obama’s decision to use his authority to make recess appointments has centered around Craig Becker, one of Obama’s nominees to the National Labor Relations Board.
With a spotlight on the labor relations agency, the top Democrat and top Republican in the Senate have responded to Obama’s plans to make recess appointments.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office praised the decision to make the controversial appointments.
“With the recess appointments of these highly qualified individuals, President Obama has shown that he is serious about getting the right team in place to create jobs and protect the American workforce,” Reid spokesman Jim Manley said in a written statement. “The nominees President Obama is appointing have waited an average of 204 days for confirmation. Many of these nominees serve in vital roles on President Obama’s economic team or on critical boards the protect American workers from discrimination and labor abuses. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been operating with only two board members since 2007.”
And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Obama’s decision to appoint Becker and another Democratic nominee to the labor agency is “a purely partisan move.”
"The president's decision to override bipartisan Senate rejection of Craig Becker's nomination is yet another episode of choosing a partisan path despite bipartisan opposition,” McConnell said in a statement. “The president previously held that appointing an individual in this manner meant that the nominee would have ‘less credibility,’ and that assessment certainly fits this nomination. Additionally stunning is the administration’s decision to recess appoint two Democrat nominees to the NLRB and leave the Republican behind. This is a purely partisan move that will make a traditionally bipartisan labor board an unbalanced agenda-driven panel.”
Programming Note: Watch more of the Axelrod interview Sunday on State of the Union at 9 a.m. ET
Follow Martina Stewart on Twitter: @MMStewartCNN