Obama makes six recess appointments, draws fire
December 29th, 2010
06:45 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama makes six recess appointments, draws fire

HONOLULU (CNN) - Taking time out from his Hawaiian vacation to assert some executive authority, President Obama used a series of recess appointments to override Republican objections to several nominees.

Obama used his Constitutional power to recess appoint six people who have had their nominations pending for an average of 147 days, according to White House officials.

White House officials said privately that the President acted because of Republican obstructionism on the nominees, which include the prestigious posts of deputy attorney general and ambassadors to Turkey, the Czech Republic, and the Syrian Arab Republic.

Senate Republican aides did not have any immediate comment on the recess appointments, which essentially allows these nominees to serve in their posts in a temporary capacity for about one year. If the nominees are not confirmed by the end of the next session of Congress, which is likely to end next November or December, the post will become vacant again.

The list includes James Cole, who was nominated to be deputy attorney general. A longtime Washington attorney, he is best known for serving as special counsel in the House ethics investigation of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R). A major reason Cole's nomination had been held up was because of concern raised by Republicans he once had worked as an independent consultant for the insurance giant AIG.

Norm Eisen, the nominee for ambassador to the Czech Republic, also received a recess appointment. He most recently served as special counsel inside the White House on ethical issues.

Another recess appointee was Matthew Bryza, who was nominated to be ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan, and is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service.

Also on the list is Robert Stephen Ford, who was nominated to be ambassador to the Syrian Arab Republic. He is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service who currently works in the State Department's office of inspector general.

In response to the appointment of Ford, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the incoming Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, in a statement: "I am deeply disappointed that the President decided to make such a major concession to the Syrian regime... Making undeserved concessions to Syria tells the regime in Damascus that it can continue to pursue its dangerous agenda and not face any consequences from the U.S."

Obama also recess appointed Francis J. Ricciardone Jr. was nominated to be ambassador to the Republic of Turkey. He has served most recently as deputy ambassador and Charge; d; Afaires at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Rounding out the list is William J. Boarman, who was nominated to be public printer of the United States. He has served as president of the Printing, Publishing & Media Workers Sector of the Communications Workers of America.

White House officials note that Senate Democrats have been forced to seek a supermajority of 60 votes to confirm 21 of the president's nominees because of Republican roadblocks, while former President Bush only need to seek so-called "cloture" votes on four of his nominees in 8 years.

In all, 18 of those Obama nominees were subsequently confirmed with 60 or more votes or by voice vote in the last two years, suggesting that they were relatively non-controversial.

White House officials also note Bush had made 23 recess appointments by this point in his presidency. The Obama officials note that at the end of Bush's first two years, there were only 6 nominees awaiting a Senate vote.

By contrast, Obama had 79 nominees pending on the floor when the Senate adjourned last week.

In all, Obama has now made 28 recess appointments, five more than Bush had made at this point, even though White House aides assert Bush faced less opposition to his picks.


Filed under: President Obama • White House
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Jonathan

    Shows how petty our governmental system is... Objecting to a nomination of the public printer??? We'll never get anything accomplished.

    December 29, 2010 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  2. AZ Dem

    Its amazing how everyone has made so many comments on how the lameduck Congress has so many legislative victories due to the Republicans cooperating yet they are STILL obstructing numerous offices the President has tried to fill...I can't be the only person who sees this going on with the GOP. Not that any of these posts may have a direct effect on the economy but they are clearly doing all in their power to keep Obama from even being remotely successful on ANY LEVEL...its a shame and if the GOP ever gets another member in the WH Democrats should remember these moments. Sure two wrongs don't make a right but if the shoe is on the other foot I bet things would be drastically different.

    December 29, 2010 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  3. Ken in NC

    Republicans idea of slowing the operations of the Obama Administrtion is to "OBSTRUCT". This to is a form of obstruction but Republicans also feel or suffer no shame by their acts to disrupt the United States Government. They are only concerned with making this President appear to be a failure and with their obstruction, not only will they make it appear that he has failed, they will also weaken our government. All they want is power. Republicans crave power. They don't care about anyone or anything other than power and they have the support of their employers, the wealthy. This country, this government will crumble and fall one day soon alll because of Republicans and the wealthy. As much as I love living and this country, I am almost glad I will not be around to see the down fall of the greatest country on earth.

    December 29, 2010 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  4. Truthhurts 99

    Just like the little aspiring dictator to do something like this. This man has no shame.

    December 29, 2010 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  5. Mark Michigan

    obama highlights what all of america knows. republicans were obstructionists for no good reason. republicans simply decided to object to everything obama and the democrats did. how does a republican figure it is alright not to have an ambassador representing usa interests in a foreign land? republicans hate america and americans.

    December 29, 2010 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  6. Liz the First

    Good! he needs to do an end run around the obstruclicans! too bad he can't do everything the country needs done by executive order since a large percentage of the congress seems bound and determined to stop him from doing the country's business.

    December 29, 2010 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  7. m

    So this only puts Obama about 143 behind the 171 that Bush made during his time in office. Yet, Republicans criticize what their party did for 8 years. In addition the Republicans want to force a higher vote total to approve the pending nominations than they had to face when Bush was in office. It is long past the time for term limits, lobbying reforms and a complete overhaul of politics.

    December 29, 2010 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  8. prezisanusurper

    Obummer is GONE GONE GONE in 2012. Boehner for Prez.

    December 29, 2010 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  9. Agnim

    Only six recess appointments? Obama is being as irresponsible as the Grand Obstructionist Party. The people's business needs to be carried out quickly and efficiently. If the LAZY, childish, petulant & Do Nothing Congress refuses to act on the people's business, then this means that there is automatically more power to the President; because somebody needs to do the work that the taxpayers are paying these lazy bones in Congress to do.

    December 29, 2010 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  10. Bob Hamilton

    He should just recess appoint all of his nominations and let the republicans lump it.

    December 29, 2010 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  11. California Lady

    It's a shame that the Republicans don't care about doing their job. Holding up nominations for no reason other than to deny
    a quick confirmation reminds me of little elementary school kids who think up and use every excuse they can find not to
    do their homework. The Republican leaderships is sending the wrong message to Americans & to those in other countries:
    Their message is "We want to drag our feet and make things as difficult as possible to govern this country." The Republicans are so obvious with these procedures, they are transparent in their efforts to obstruct President Obama at every turn. They aren't listening to the American people who want things to change & for both parties to govern efficiently and responsibily. I hope, President Obama makes as many recess appts. as possible. The country needs these positions filled. To leave candidates in limbo for over four months is silly and childish of Republican. Their "temper tantrums" need to stop and they need to start acting iike grown-ups and become professional and ethical.

    December 29, 2010 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  12. Bill

    Oh well, they can all be thrown out after the next election when Obama is gone (good riddance)

    December 29, 2010 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  13. Stephen Daugherty

    Let no mistake be made: to forward their political agenda, the Republicans have forsaken their basic responsibilities and undermined the welfare of this country. They've decided that their point of view must reign in Washington, not the majority's. This is just one of hundreds of places where the Republicans deprive America of the expedited help that our country needed during the past two years.

    December 29, 2010 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  14. Frank

    I am sure the GOP hates to be reminded of how much worse its behavior is on these appointment holdups than the Democrats ever was under the Bush regime. Juts remember Mitch McConnell's number one priority is not to lead the country into the future but to insure that the current President fails. Nice leadership, Mitch.

    December 29, 2010 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |