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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Tammy

    I love reading the comments on news websites. So informative, so entertaining, and much comic relief as well as baffling inanity.

    March 28, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. republicans hate america

    didnt have any balance problems when you guys ran it all to the ground

    March 28, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. German, Irish American

    Headline when Bush was President-"Bush bypasses Congress to make recess appointment." Headline today-"Fed up with waiting, Obama makes recess appointment." See any bias in the reporting? Democrats used their majority in 2007 during the Thanksgiving holiday to have Jim Webb go to Senate and open and close the Senate every day, 22 seconds a day, so Bush could make no recess appointments.Jim Webb, quote, "I'd much rather be doing this than to allow the President to skirt the confirmation process in the Senate." My how the hypocritical MSM and liberal Obama, unable to think for themselves lemmings, are today.

    March 28, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  4. call me crazy

    I see the Republicans are following the orders of Rush Limbaugh and doing everything they can to make Obama fail. Further proof that the extremists are still in power over the Republicans. Democrats had better step up and stand their ground in November.

    March 28, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. Ken

    Remind me again who has been in charge with a super majority over the last year? Oh, ya, it is the DEMOCRATS!

    Who has controled the schedule in the house and senate, deciding what they would vote on and when? Oh, ya, it was the DEMOCRATS!

    Who has been in the majority since the economy started to collapse in 2006? Oh, ya, it was the DEMOCRATS!

    And which party did not have enough votes to stop anything the democrats wanted to do? Oh, ya, it was the Republicans.

    So tell me again, and again and again, how is any of the failures of the Democrat leadership, including the failure to appoint radicals, socialist, union goons, extremist, and tax cheats, caused by the Republicans?

    March 28, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. Gerry M

    The sad truth is that all the GOP has left is obstructionism and Sarah Palin. That’s it. The political tank is empty. Come November the GOP is going to suffer the worst route out of Congressional politics ever experienced by a modern political party. No-one except the extreme tin-foil hat wearing political right gives the GOP the least bit of credence. Their last best hope was to compromise and sign on to heath care reform. They failed and now all they’ve got left is standing in the way until they are swept into the dust bin of history. Personally, I will be very happy indeed when the GOP is gone for good.

    March 28, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    "Ultimate power grab"? The only thing that smells ugly is the anti-American obstructionism of the Republican minority.

    And yes, American IS watching...closely. They are seeing your party's so-called leaders egging on the Hatriots as well as your party's determination to undermine this president at every turn.

    PS.GWB had OVER ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY recess appointments–now there's a power grab for you. But you didn't protest then, right? "Ulitimate power grab", don't be ridiculous.

    March 28, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    A lot of posters here love to say, "Take our country back."

    From whom? The majority of Americans who democratically elected President Obama and majorities in the House and Senate?

    To be more accurate and truthful, your rallying cry should be, "We're sore losers and don't respect democracy!"


    March 28, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. Ted

    Republicans think we are too stupid to notice that they have blocked voting on many many appointments. Well guess what? I noticed, that is why I changed party from Republican to Democrat. I won't be voting for a Republican until they start to act like adults and actually participate in trying to fix this country. I've had enough of stall and delay (what ever happened to that crook Delay anyway?)

    March 28, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  10. Hendrik

    I just hope that we, as a nation, can get past these terrible Republicans. They are sooooo out of touch – we hope.

    March 28, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  11. chris

    Typical hypocrisy from the right.
    Bush appointed WAY more than Obama did. Reagan appointed over 200. This is 100% non-news unless you want to frame it like the hypocritical republicans do:

    We can do it, Obama can't.

    That seems to be the only argument republicans have been able to make as of late.

    March 28, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  12. MsDp

    To all DEMs: Come November, 2010, all DEMOCRATS must go to their polling and site and VOTE. This has to stop. We as American Democrats & Independants must elect some one who cares about the operations of our country, the welfare of its people, and not just their political party and obstruction. We voted for this President, and we must help him. Because it is very obivious that the repubs are trying to NOT HELP him.

    March 28, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. ThinkAgain

    Wow, this is so pathetic.

    Republicans, left with nothing but tried-and-failed policies, have nothing to offer by an appeal to all the under-educated, ill-informed, sore loser, crybabies victims out there who can't handle it when they don't get their way.

    Republicans use lies, hate, division and – most of all – fear to motivate these base people, playing on their emotions, and encouraging them to act irresponsibly and without thought.

    To what end? So the Republicans can regain power and continue their failed economic, military and foreign policies that took our country down the toilet.

    Only a fool would fall for the line of BS put out by the Republicans.

    March 28, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  14. michael

    my take is there shoud be a law of now longer than 6 mounths on appointments ........not hold them up for over six months...what a joke

    March 28, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  15. Bostonian-TheWoodlands,TX

    The Weatherman March 28th, 2010 11:37 am ET

    Has anyone noticed the "closed shop" or union states are heavily democratic, have the worst economies and losing the most population to states which are coincidentally "right to work" or nonunion and recovering from economic morass. Those latter states coincidentally tilt republican.

    I guess that is also "Bush's fault" or Reagan or Nixon............

    The Weatherman

    I SURE have. Perhapsd because they're so busy paying taxes out the A*& !!!

    But some of your red states pay so little,but get so much back from DC, they don't have time to see it.

    Coming from Massacusetts, people here in Texas should NEVER, EVER, and I mean EVER complain about taxes.

    March 28, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  16. Fed Up

    That's not what Republicans called it when the Democrats did not act on George Bush's nominees.

    March 28, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  17. Dave

    The GOP has forgotten that the house is on fire and they need to move or be burned to death. I smell smoke and November looks like the flame thrower not a water cannon.

    March 28, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  18. Old Yuh

    Republicans – the do as we say, not as we do party.

    March 28, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
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