March 28th, 2010
01:45 PM ET
3 years ago

Alexander: 'What it's called is checks and balances'

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander said Sunday that the president's plan for recess appointments has thrown 'fuel on the fire' at a time of already angry political debate in the country.
Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander said Sunday that the president's plan for recess appointments has thrown 'fuel on the fire' at a time of already angry political debate in the country.

Washington (CNN) – A leading Senate Republican said Sunday that his chamber’s failure thus far to act on a number of President’s Obama’s nominees was consistent with the constitutional scheme of government intended to keep the executive branch in check.

Obama announced plans Saturday to appoint 15 nominees while the Senate is in recess. Among the 15 is one especially controversial pick for the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that weighs in on those labor-management disputes governed by federal law.

Related: Obama to make recess appointments

Asked on CNN’s State of the Union about Democratic claims of Republican obstructionism in the Senate, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, said his party was helping to fulfill the Senate’s traditional role in a divided government.

“What it’s called is checks and balances,” said the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. “And what the president has done here is throw fuel on the fire at a time when the civil – when the debate about politics is a very angry debate to begin with.”

Related: Anger over health care bill a sign of the times?

The Tennessee Republican noted that all 41 Republican senators had recently written to the president and asked that he not make a recess appointment of labor attorney Craig Becker. Many conservatives and business interests say Becker holds views about the right to unionize and the procedures for forming a union that they find objectionable.

Related: Appointment to labor board sparks opposition

Pointing to the GOP’s upset win in a Massachusetts special Senate election earlier this year, Alexander suggested that the White House and congressional Democrats could pay a political price for appointing Becker while the Senate is in recess.

“What this is going to do is cause the election of a lot more Republican Scott Browns in November who are determined to come in and provide some checks and balances in Washington to stop the overreaching of the government,” Alexander told CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “We have a Senate to provide advice and consent. We have a constitutional responsibility to keep the president from ramming things through like they did the health care bill, like they did student loans over the weekend and like he’s doing with this labor appointee.”

Under the Constitution the president needs the “advice and consent” of the Senate to make high-level appointments to the administration and federal agencies. But the Constitution also allows the president to make appointments without input from the Senate when the Senate is in recess.

Updated: 12:32 p.m.

Follow Martina Stewart on Twitter: @MMStewartCNN

soundoff (243 Responses)
  1. Xavier

    So what was it called when Bush or any republican president did the same thing? Hell of a double standard you got there Alexander.

    March 28, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  2. FisherBlue

    Oh Come ON! George Bush made 170 recess appointments, and I didn't hear Lamarr Alexander or any other Republican criticizing HIM!

    March 28, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  3. Sherry

    If the Republicans would use the energy they spend fighting against everything this administation puts out there for a more positive agenda, it would be refreshing, however as McCain stated this week. The Democrats can expect NO cooperation from the GOP for the rest of the year. I guess that means that unless the President does things while they are on recess, nothing will be accomplished. So sad.

    March 28, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  4. Don

    The Republicans had 8 years to run things the way they wanted, and the country is now paying dearly for their incredible fiasco!
    During the last year the Republican Party has accomplished NOTHING except morphing clearly into the Obstructionist Party.
    They are now reaping the results of their close-minded, hateful actions.
    The funny part is that they truly believe that this smattering handful of Tea Baggers are going to magically bring them back into power this fall.
    After this seasons elections are over, the Obstructionist Party will be better know as the Delusional Party! :-)

    March 28, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. mcm,olympia wash.

    find most republicans on this post are like the little bullys in a school yard who used to get ther own way cause they were louder than anyone else,could attack the person and not the idea better than others, and saddly they still feel that if you can not improve an IDEA than there rational is to still attack the person,lets face it,its allways easer to get your way if you can distract from reality,or confuse without fact,insomeways I feel the repugs think that like in court if you can raise the shadow of dought regardless of cicmstanc that is as good as producing fact over fiction.repugs have never really needed fact,they feel that if they think it ,it MUST be FACT.go figure

    March 28, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. Larry

    I LOVE OBAMA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Greatest person this country has seen in the White House in a LOOOOOOOOONG Time

    Keep up the great work Mr President

    March 28, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  7. Mike Pittsburgh

    This is totally different from the recess appointments that Mr. Bush made. See, the people Bush had nominated were being held up by the Democrats because they were not qualified, and it should have been illegal for Bush to use recess appointments to get them into those positions, he should have been impeached and thrown out of office for doing this. As opposed to now, where those awaiting approval are very qualified and the Republicans are just holding them up out of spite, therefore Mr. Obama is quite justified in making these recess appointments.

    What made those people Bush nominated unqualified? Why, they had conservative ideas and principles. Therefore they were unqualified.

    March 28, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. AC

    Thank You President Obama, The true Americans Love You!!
    Like Bush said "If You are not With Me, Then You are Against America" That rooster is coming home to crow.

    March 28, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  9. Seattle Sue

    Alexander/Republicans equal total jerks.

    March 28, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  10. Pragmatic

    77 appointments that have been in limbo for over 7 months ... and more and more republicans are quoting McCain saying that they will no longer work with Democrats and the White House on ANY ISSUE!
    "There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year"

    We remember Bush recess appointments including Bolton to the UN: obstruction, selective memories and enough hypocrisy to choke and elephant. The GOP planning to run "we are proud to have accomplished NOTHING!"

    March 28, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  11. Todd

    alexander failed to note that every president makes recess appointments, and that his hero george dubya bush did it with regularity and with the intention of firing up the democrtas by appointing people who were, for example, anti-civil rights acivists to the federal courts. Checks and balances is appropriate. But it does not include the idea of individual senators blocking nominations to important federal jobs out of spite on unrelated issues. alexander is a lsime bag. Just watch the first 10 minutes of the health care summit and he exposes himself as the sleaziest of the sleazy. LOVED when Harry Ried responded to him saying that it is one thing to have a difference of opinion, but the opposition is not entitles to its own seperate fictional set of "facts."

    March 28, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  12. Aviate

    Another amazing Republican rediscovery! Along with the deficit, the filibuster, and Reconciliation! Now we can add "checks & balances," a phrase that never crossed their lips from 1/20/01 to 1/19/09.

    I'm sure Sen. Alexander & his GOP colleagues were just as outraged by all of W's recess appointments. Just as they were by his deficits and their own use of reconciliation. They just didn't bother to let anyone know about it at the time...

    March 28, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. Todd

    Opposing veiws are fine and welcome. But spouting pure fiction to rile up yahoos with guns is something not even bearing a passing resemblance to "opposing views."

    alexander must have forgotten the 170 appointments made by dubya, and the 243 made by St. Reagan the Myth.

    March 28, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  14. Matt

    Checks and Balances were created to keep the different branches of government from having absolute power. It has nothing to do with differences in political party affiliation.

    March 28, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. John in Tampa

    What Obama is doing is keeping the government functioning. If one of his temps is truly that bad, those opposed can bring that nomination to hearing and embarass him into a better nomination. If they don't have anyone better, they can dry up, because the show must go on with the best person you've got.

    March 28, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  16. Justin - NC

    This isn't about Checks and Balances because when Bush was in office you guys didn't limit his spending, didn't block his nominee's, didn't put up a fight to a single thing he did. Only when the democrats come in office did they start enforcing checks and balances which Obama asked for when he declared he'd work in a bipartisan manner. He gave Republicans their chance to partake in the stimulus and health bill. After he gave them some of what they wanted, they still gave him a goose egg so forget republicans. They're only into obstruction and I'll take my vote and cast straight democrat in November.

    March 28, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  17. Sam Smith

    The constitution says "approve or disapprove of a nominee". You stalled. That's not the same. Shame on you for lying again, GOP!

    March 28, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  18. Alan D.

    Yeah, Lamar, and the recess appointment is also in the constitution for a reason – so that "check" doesn't become "checkmate."

    March 28, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  19. AK Steve

    Does it really take over a year to do your "checks and balances"? Give me a break. McCain already said the GOP will do everything in the power to be a uncooperative as possible.

    You're just a a bunch of whinny babies. I hope next election we vote some ADULTS to represent us.

    March 28, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  20. cel

    as intelligent as Lamar is, I would have thought that he, of all Republicans, would get it that the conservatives lost the election and that they need to take their medicine like big boys and girls and understand that the majority in this country is no longer white folks.
    The conservatives are on their way out the door unless they mend their ways. They need to stop trying to shout down the majority, louder ain't better and they need to work with the opposition, not try to make enemies out of us. They don't need more enemies, they got enough as it is.

    March 28, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  21. Jay T.

    It's called being an obstructionist and everyone knows it. Cut the posing.

    March 28, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. JonDie

    Go, Mr. Obama, go. You are doing a GREAT job!

    Republicans, on the other hand and as usual, are doing NOTHING to help the country.

    March 28, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. Joe

    I personaly feel that he has the ight tot do what he is doing. The problem is the appontment for NLRB, How in the owrld do you think you can have someone run an agency fairly when he is in bed with the Unions. Look at his job history. Lawyer for the SEIU and AFLCIO. How do you think he is going to rule in anything. This man would not have been appointed if it went to a vote in the SEnate. Obama is ignoring his own party. Again I reapeat, there is not problem with the rest of ohis apointees. It is this one that he is showing he will do anything he can to make this country a Socialist state. Wait until November. If you think the country spoke with Mass and BRown, you have not seen anything. Obama another one term President who will go down in history as poorly as did Carter....

    March 28, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  24. Dawn Ada, Oh

    The President has been waiting a year for the Grand Obstructionist Party to confirm some of the nominees and he should wait no longer. Nominate as many as you want Mr. President we are behind you!!

    March 28, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  25. The GOP wants to take our country backwards

    Our President has been dealing with extreme obstructionism. The GOP has been completely refusing to vote on any appointments (OK, so they don't like one guy - what about the other 14!!!). The continuing obstruction of the vote on the labor relations appointments alone was impacting (and delaying) the business of the American people. A responsible President has to do something to move things along, even if the GOP refuses to. President Obama did the right thing and the GOP is looking like a bunch of do-nothing sore losers.

    March 28, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
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