Washington (CNN) - Congressional Republicans were furious Wednesday after President Obama's recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, arguing the move was unconstitutional because the Senate has met every three or four days over the holiday period and therefore was not on a recess.
"This is an extraordinary and entirely unprecedented power grab by President Obama," complained House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a statement, saying it "would have a devastating effect on the checks and balances that are enshrined in our constitution."
- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
"This recess appointment represents a sharp departure from a long-standing precedent that has limited the President to recess appointments only when the Senate is in a recess of 10 days or longer," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.
The intense GOP reaction to Cordray came before Obama also recess-appointed three members to the National Labor Relations Board, an agency under fire from Republicans who believe it is tilted in favor of labor unions.
However, Senate Democrats defended the aggressive efforts by the White House, arguing the president's constitutional authority to fill top government posts outweighed whether Congress was technically in session or not.
"In both of these cases he is using that power judiciously to counter Republican attempts to cripple two agencies that look out for the middle class," said a top Senate Democratic leadership aide. "The CFPB can't function effectively without a head and the NLRB can't function effectively without these slots being filled."
One of Obama's picks for the NLRB is a Republican, the Democratic aide noted.
At issue, is a disagreement over the meaning by the term "recess?" The constitution states the president can make recess appointments but fails to dictate how long a recess is. Legal experts have debated the point for years.
Either way, the White House called the pro forma sessions "gimmicks."
Republicans accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, of hypocrisy because he had successfully utilized pro forma sessions to block recess appointments by President George W. Bush.
In his statement Wednesday, Reid did not specifically address his shift in thinking. However, the Democratic aide explained that Senate Democrats supported the moves because they believe a presidential challenge was inevitable-either by Obama or a future president. They also felt the appointment of Cordray to the consumer-friendly board was worth tossing out a precedent they've used before and might have otherwise tried to use again.
"Someone was going to challenge this at some point anyway," the Democratic aide said.
A top Republican aide predicted a small business or business association would file suit to block Cordray from carrying out his duties. That could make it harder for Corday to set up the nascent agency and its work would be "tainted," the aide argued.
Paul: Gingrich a 'chickenhawk'
Iowa outcome: What it means for the president
McCain backs former foe Romney over Senate colleague Santorum
Army soldier rallying for Paul violated military ban on political activity
Romney NH ad alleges Obama broke promises
Too bad we can't harvest Boehner's crying for reusable energy – he could power the whole US.
Only about 150 more appointments to go to match Bush.
Constitutional duties trump "long-standing precedent," especially when that precedent is being abused. Get over yourselves, GOP.
Bush made these appointments all the time and there was never a word from the republicans then.
When Republican presidents made recess appointments, it is called leadership. Republicans have made record numbers of recess appointments to circumvent the process. When Democrats make the appointments it is called illegal and all sorts of names.
Republicans have promised to filibuster any appointment to this post. Republicans have filibustered nearly every appointee that Obama has submitted to the Congress. All that they have done is block the votes. Does anyone really care if they are putting on yet another display of self-righteous indignation.
Who cares if they are furious? The American people are furious too that they have been holding this country hostage in order to win back the WH (which won't happen). The president has taken more off these disrespectful thugs than most of us ever would – and FINALLY, he has had enough. For that I say BRAVO Mr. President.
I'd say a history-making number of filibusters in the past 2 or 3 years is a pretty devastating effect also.
Too many positions unfilled because Turtle-face wants to make President Obama one-term AS HIS HIGHEST PRIORITY - so much for him working to solve problems when he created most of what is wrong - Turtle-face is un-American.
How great!!! Finally the President is standing up to these Republican obstructionists. For three years we have had this "conservative" nonsense. It is time for the President to pick a well-deserved fight. These clowns are not "conservatives:"; they are Republicans only.
"A top Republican aide predicted a small business or business association would file suit to block Cordray from carrying out his duties. "
And if we want to know which one it will be, just file a FOIA request for that aide's telephone records.
And before I forget: waaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!! GOPey wants its binky!!!!!
Here we go Repugs are mad because the president is doing his job. To the Repugs DO YOUR JOB
Bravo Mr. President! Since the right wing obstructionists can't lead (and refuse to follow), they need to get out of the way.
Presidents since George Washington have made recess appointments; in his two terms, GW Bush made 171 recess appointments (including John Bolton as the US representative to the United Nations; remember that cranky old guy?).
The Repubs have no call to be upset ... bunch of whiny babies ...
Maybe when they get back from recess,they can draw numbers to see who is first to sit in the corner with the dunce cap on.And then it will be time for lunch and more playground activities.Isn't Washington swell?
This administration is a joke.
Republican presidents have had no problem doing exactly the same thing when their choices don't get through the Senate. But NOW it is suddenly reprehensible. Hypocrisy rules politics.
STOP BLOCKING THE APPOINTMENTS!!! They are just mad that he knows the law and will do everything within his power in the executive branch!!! They really feel he should not take a step out the door unless he asks permission...
If Republicans are fighting for the middle class, then why are they fighting so hard against an agency described to protect the middle class?
Gee...Ya think maybe Obama is tired of playing the game Boehner's way and just decided to get something done? I say good for Obama. These bums wouldn't give him the time of day. I would go around them every chance I could get if I was the president. Let them finally do something and try and take him out over this. It's about time they all earned at least a dollar of their ridiculous wages.
Hope and Change, and Unconstitutional. Would somebody in Congress please grow a set and start the impeachment process.
These bozo', republicans, have been sabotaging the economy for the past three years after driving if over a sheer cliff under Bush. They are clowns who should all be voted out of office. It's up to the American people. Or, could it be that many prefer gridlock?
good, it's always a good sign when Republicans are furious. It means justice is being done, no one is getting scammed or ripped off by them and the US is a safer place.
I think I would have been more surprised if they were HAPPY with it. Obama must have found his inner Bill Clinton and said (BLEEP) the Republicans I'm going to do what I think is best for the country. BRAVO
The republicans hate it when the president uses the same type of ruses they have been employing for the last three years in order to block everything. I am so glad that he is challenging them nose to nose. It is way past time that he tames the bullies that have only their interests and his defeat as their goal. Happy New Year Republicans!!! President Obama and the rest of us are ready to take you on!!!!!
hahaha,.. crybaby Republicans,.. the President took away they favorite ploy,.. the stall and obstruct tactic.