March 27th, 2010
06:41 PM ET
11 years ago

Axelrod: Senate has 'a responsibility' to act on nominations

Washington (CNN) – A top adviser to President Barack Obama is suggesting that the administration had little choice but to make the 15 recess appointments the White House announced Saturday.

“[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

soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Pleased

    It is good that President Obama did this. Maybe when more of these things occur the Republicans will come to the table with honesty and try and put whatever valid arguments they have instead of just playing the block everything game they have been playing.

    March 27, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  2. Deb n Texas

    It is really sad how Republicans in Congress really think that they are doing things right. They don't know the definition of "right." They also think that the actions they have taken holding up appointees is going to help them in the next election – its going to harm them in the next election and many to come. They must have forgotten how many Republicans voted for President Obama and all they are doing is making those same Republicans STAY voting with the DEMS. Thank you Republicans – you are doing a fine job.

    March 27, 2010 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  3. A keen observer

    Well, if the republicans want a say in the appointments, maybe they should have not said no to the appointments. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot; not very smart!

    March 27, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    As with everything since President Obama's election, the Republicans are playing politics instead of serving the country.

    I am completely comfortable with these recess appointments; if the Republicans had wanted a say in the matter, then they should have let the nomination process proceed.

    You know, more and more, I believe the Republican leadership and those who follow it in lockstep are suffering from mental illness, of the narcissistic, infantile variety. They cannot handle the fact that they lost and are out of power and are doing everything they can to try to make our President and our country fail – regardless of the consequences and the suffering that results.

    The Republican attitude is “my way or the highway.” If they were in preschool, they would have been put into time out a long time ago and made to stay there until they had learned to behave and get along with others.

    GOP = Party Before Country

    March 27, 2010 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  5. Birches

    Gotta LOVE it. Go President Obama.

    Let the lying Repubicans/Tea Bags have all the apoplectic fits they want to have. Bunch of hot, stupid, ignorant air.

    March 27, 2010 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  6. CNN Watchdog

    Are you only allowing your SEIU budiies to post?....Youve got more pro Harry Reid posts in the above article than there are Reid supporters in all of Nevada!!!.......and in THIS story the lies are deep and festering....Harry won't even schedule votes on these nominees!!!!
    They are too controversial, so they dont want the attention of an open vote. Are you going to blow whats left of CNN's reputation?
    Harry's the one in charge.....'til November at least!

    March 27, 2010 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  7. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    When President Obama won the election and McCain lost they decided on day one they would do their job as statesmen but work for the loser John McCain. Well, they've got it wrong again and I expect for President Obama to remind them that he is the President of the United States of America and that's why we sent him to Washington instead of John McCain.

    March 27, 2010 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  8. Michele

    At last, the President got tired of playing games with the idiots across the aisle, and is acting Presidential. Go Barack!

    March 27, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  9. Ken in NC

    This President is being held up by Republicans. That is what they do. They have a desire to see this President fail and will do all they can to insure it. The President asked them to go forth with his nominations. They chose not to just as previous Senates have done with Republican Presidents. Well this President like others before him warned the Senate of what he was going to do if they failed to act and he did it and it is just as legal as it was when a Republican President did it.

    I am beginning to see much of the problem with this country is in the Senate. They think they own and run everything. They act like they are the GODS that control all. I have seen the House of Representatives working and they are a functional unit within our government. It is the Senate that is clogging up the system. Matbe we just need to remove all Senators and start with a fresh batch and of course, it they don't work out , get rid of them and put in another batch and keep doing it until we get people in there that are willing to work together.

    March 27, 2010 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  10. SM

    Take 'em down President Obama! We're proud of you!

    March 27, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  11. John D

    Just like Obozo to circumvent the Constitution AGAIN!

    March 27, 2010 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  12. Four and The Door

    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.”
    I applaud the Republicans for standing up against bad legislation. It's unfortunate for Americans that the Democratic leadership continues to consistently try to do things based on what the far left liberals desire. If they only had any idea how to keep from screwing up the economy. It has only gotten worse with each large program they push through. Really, look at all of the things they have done that have not been effective at all.

    March 27, 2010 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  13. Larry

    Based on the comments in the blogs the Republican party has become a party of the past.

    November won't get here fast enough so we can vote the rest of them out of office.

    March 27, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  14. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    The Senate also has a responsibility not to destroy the US economy, but that didn't seem to be a factor when they voted to waste two trillion dollars on their insane health care welfare fiasco.

    March 27, 2010 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  15. W. Vida

    I am a conservative but I think there is hypocrisy on both sides of this. Democrats acted like it was the worst thing ever when Bush made recess appointments and now Obama is doing it. But Republicans were not outraged when Bush did it and now they are.

    March 27, 2010 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  16. ran

    Mr. President recess all 77. Enough of the fear/hate/obstructionist/purity Republicans.

    March 27, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  17. annie against biased news

    If obama and axelrod (who looks like hitler) are for these appointees then you can bet the ranch these appointees are a piece of garbage.

    March 27, 2010 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  18. Seth

    Love that "change" thing that Obama's got going. It's not like the Republicans would have done anything this sleazy. (Read that as spoken snidely. Of course they would have.)

    We voted for change and what we got was George Bush's third term al la Al Jolson. America, we're not going to get real change until recognize that both the Democrats and Republicans are equally corrupt and we vote out the two party system.

    March 27, 2010 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  19. sandy

    You go President Obama....make all the "recess" appointments you can squeeze in!

    March 27, 2010 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  20. Kent in CA

    Members of the United States Senate need to understand that 'advise and consent' does not mean 'stonewall and obstruct'.
    Good for you, Mr. President. You have given them an ample opportunity to act. This government must get to work.
    There is much work to be done, and being blocked from getting the team in place will only ensure the entire nation loses.

    March 27, 2010 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  21. indy

    Why? The Democrats never had a duty to act on President Bush's nominees.

    March 27, 2010 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  22. Kathy Green

    GO OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am hearing people say that we need to get rid of the republican party. I AGREE.

    March 27, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  23. Kathy Green

    Frankly, I am not die-hard either party. I vote for the president based on what he says he will do for our country. I liked McCain as a person but never thought he would make a good president. When he chose Palin as a running mate I was and am very concerned that he is "possibly becoming senile." I would never have voted for him against Obama but his choice of a running mate really concerned me that McCain is even in our Congress. He is making a fool of himself but doesn't realize it because his mind is slowing down.

    However, will you please ask Obama to wash Biden's mouth out with soap and see if he can clean him up a little! I like Joe Biden but I do not like it when he stoops to trashy words to describe something as important as our healthcare reform.

    March 27, 2010 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  24. IVOTE

    Republicans need to be fired. If I was hired to perform in any capacity and decided to cease work for the rest of the year because something did not go my way the door would slam behind me quickly. To disrespect the elected offices these people hold is disgraceful, so throw the GOP slackers out. The only way bi-partisanship can work is both side work together.

    March 27, 2010 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  25. joshua sweet

    Why bother when all the Czars are just appointed with no obvious background checks that matter the assiduity to think that any one can just fill a position with out true experience, or the continuation of the lack of Bipartisanship of the administration even to violating past precedence where the NLRB is balanced.
    “The truth is more important than the facts." – Frank Lloyd Wright
    “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” — Ronald Reagan
    ID 10 T error in the administration

    March 27, 2010 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
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