Republicans furious over Obama recess appointments
January 4th, 2012
06:24 PM ET
2 years ago

Republicans furious over Obama recess appointments

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."

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"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.

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Filed under: Congress • President Obama
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. Allie

    Republicans furious? Well check out these statistics: George W. Bush made 171 recess appointments, of which 99 were to full-time positions. As of December 8, 2011, President Barack Obama had made 28 recess appointments, all to full-time positions. Talk about hypocrisy!!!

    January 4, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  2. macrasta

    its a game of chess with the Repubs in the house and senate letting any nominee go thru............so president obama says "checkmate"...

    January 4, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  3. Jay

    Oh boo hoo Republicans! The President went and did something with out John Boehner or Mitch McConnell's blessing? Heaven forbid!

    January 4, 2012 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  4. Keith in Austin

    Adolf Obama! Our Socialist Dictator in Chief!

    January 4, 2012 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  5. Ken_In_ATL

    Good for you Mr. President. For three years Obama has extended a hand to republicans only to be rejected time and time again. Many times the president has reached out to republicans with the American people solidly on his side and time and time again republicans said no. Riddle me this, if the American people are for something and the GOP is not, who do they serve ? The president was right to make these appointments and stop the crass politics that are destroying our democracy and country. Gop'ers can put that in their pipes and smoke it.

    January 4, 2012 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  6. willie floyd

    Just because they have shown up doesn't necessarily mean they've actually DONE anything. If the average American simply showed up their boss would probably not pay them or maybe just send them home. They've refused to work with the president on anything, so I say use your executive order or anything at your disposal to accomplish what you feel is important, and maybe they will soon get the message.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012/ WARREN/2016

    January 4, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  7. chuck weidemann

    Boehner??? He still around??? No one listens to him....when he speaks no one listens just ask his fellow members!!!

    January 4, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  8. stacey california

    I'm glad he advanced the best interest of Americas over Replubicans petty deeds. Who else will look after the interest of hard-working Americans- not the doggone Republicans. And they have demonstrated this time after time with their actions in Congress.

    January 4, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  9. e01938

    Gee – I didn't hear Boehner complaining about any of W's recess appt's. God forbid we afford protection to consumers.

    January 4, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  10. Jay

    The do nothing Republicans do not want Consumers protected from Banks.

    January 4, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  11. David

    Boo freakin hoo, the Repubs in congress have been sniveling little sore loser babies since Obama won and they made it clear they were not going to do anything constructive as they were more interested in sabotaging the country in order to try to make Obama look bad..

    January 4, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  12. Matt

    Here is what seems to be the biggest issue, as you read the other comments below, you will see that people's reactions seem to fall in line perfectly with their established political opinions. Obama supporters will talk about "do-nothing" Republicans saying that obama is doing what he has to. Anti-Obama supporters will talk about constitutionality and may condemn the actions he is taking themselves. Forgive any liberal who questions whether Obama is stepping too far, even if he is trying to do the right thing. Forgive any conservative who admits they'd praise the same situation if it was a President they shared views on politically.

    Therefore, how much did we really learn?

    Breaking Partisan Lines... someday :(

    January 4, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  13. Democrat leaning Independant

    Somebody had to do it, lol are we crying cause he found a way to get around you AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 4, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  14. amlcpamaine

    When are these jokers going to get it? *If* they were to preface some of their rants with ACTUALLY GETTING SOMETHING DONE to help jobs, etc they might have some credibility. And this one is typical for these millionaire-backed puppets: they don't like the law that they helped pass so they'll put us ALL in limbo to rant and block implementation. Another case of "play my way or I take the ball home." Bunch of losers.

    There are no political winners on this one because the law is designed to benefit US - and Washington has proved that it'll fight to the death (unfortunately ours) for political points but don't give a rat's-patootie about consumers. Who are they? ... only the very people who drive the economy.

    January 4, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  15. Len

    Good for President Obama. The majority of Americans are tired of the GOP obstructionist. Wake up America the GOP will throw you under the bus.

    January 4, 2012 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  16. Anomic Office Drone

    Did Republicans in Congress think President Obama would just sit on his hands and let them hold up this process forever?

    January 4, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  17. Mr_Awesome

    Okay, let's be real. The checks and balances in the Constitution have been in shreds for the better part of the 20th century. Constitutionally, Congress should be the most powerful force in our government, but the modern Executive branch is by and far the most powerful branch today. Presidents have always pushed for more power, and this is in no way unprecedented. More useless politicking.

    January 4, 2012 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  18. Jerry

    Not as furious as I am that over the last three years, the republicans repeatedly refused to have up or down votes on cabinet appointments, ambassador appointments, on judicial appointments. For three years republicans just block stuff for the sake of blocking stuff even when it hurts the american people. Republicans don' like the appointments,,then vote against them, But we are entitled to have a functioning government and the President is entitled to have up or down votes on his appointees.

    January 4, 2012 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  19. DoNotWorry

    The Republicans need to stick their fury in their ear. Just like them not funding the legal group going after corporate corruption... which, incidentally, brings in more money than it costs. Now, they want to kill off the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Read the Money section about how derivatives are going to crash our economy again and tell me whether it is time to get rid of Congress.

    January 4, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  20. Lis7

    Former president George W. Bush made 171 recess appointments. President Obama has made 29. The GOP tantrum du jour once again belies whose side they are on, and it's not ours.

    January 4, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  21. koga001

    This a good rule, and needs to be enforced. It as actually for all soldier's protection since the official endorsment of a candidate could be considered a verbal reprimand against your currant Commander in Chief. I am a Ron Paul supporter, and i suspect this rule was simply forgotten in all the excitement, but this soldier did break it and needs to be appropriately disciplined. This is a good opportunity for us to remember that clergyman as well should not be politicing for a specific candidate as that would endanger their church 'tax-exempt' status. anyone in a leadership role needs to know what their rights and responsibilities are.

    January 4, 2012 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  22. KenneyP of Colorado

    Republicans are furious that Obama appointed a director the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Wait consumers are JOB CREATORS. Consumer need their finance's protected from big banks. Republicans wanted to either eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or water down to the point were would be useless. If Consumers are protected they are more likely to spend and invest their money. Again the REAL JOB CREATORS!!! It is almost laughable how they Republicans keep defending their big bank friends as those big bank friends suck the 401k funds out of the hands of the middle class.

    January 4, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  23. NVa Native

    The infanitile GOP whines and cries when the President starts treating the GOP in Congress as the deserve to be treated – as little spoiled children throwing a tantrum.
    For the sake of all Americans – spank them as hard as you can Mr. President.

    January 4, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  24. mk1

    Let's see, President Bush used recess appointments 171 times as I recall. What goes around comes around. The Republicans screamed about Democrats holding up appointments under Bush, what did they think would happen if they held up appointments under President Obama? I personally think most of the rules in the Senate need to be done away with, especially the filibuster and the 60 vote rule which basically are one and the same.

    January 4, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  25. Ron

    Good for the President. So what if Boehner/McConnell are "upset". Everyone knows the meeting every three or four days is a gimmick used by both parties to block recess appointments. I say, if you want to block recess appointments, don't go on recess (i.e. keep your butt in DC and go to work everyday). If the issue means that much to you, seems to me you wouldn't mind spending your vacation in DC and going to work everyday. Good move for the president. It will benefit Americans by forcing politicians to go to work and invest some time in being obstructionists!!

    January 4, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
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