Republicans furious over Obama recess appointments
January 4th, 2012
06:24 PM ET
9 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. GI Joe

    Hmmmm "I'll see your record-breaking number of filibusters and raise you one recess appointment (to protect the people of this country".

    I like it.

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

    Congressional Republicans were furious over an appointment that helps stop consumer fraud ?

    The GOP is just venting built up anger over not finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq !

    Kick the Bums out on the street , don't let them become lobbyist !

    January 4, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  3. Larry L

    They hate the fact that their obstructionism was twarted by exceptions to the normal procedures... like the 95 filibusters the Republicans in the Senate have used to block all debate and votes in the Senate. They don't want anybody protecting the consumers. They want their buddies in the financial district to have their way with the American consumers once again.

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

    At my job, anything outside a normal day's work (excluding weekends/holidays) is a recess. If you skip a workday, you're on vacation. If you're on vacation, you're in recess. Not too complicated. Only, we should doc their pay for those missed days.

    January 4, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  5. Get Real

    Bush made 171 recess appointments including John Bolton to the UN and that was AOK. Obama has made 28 recess appointments and these he made while the Republicans were simply gaveling sessions open and closed so they would still technically be "in session" even though they weren't there and no business was actually being conducted. And yet the Republicans are "patriots" and Obama is a "Dictator"?

    Sell crazy someplace else GOP. We're all stocked up here.

    January 4, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  6. LIP

    Okay, so the Democrats did the same thing and denied the Republican President from doing what Obama just did, so it must be unconstitutional. So they can overturn his appointment or deny him the seat and need to do it now and not just crow about it.

    January 4, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  7. SA in OO

    NOW HERE THIS . . .
    If you don't want to do your job and approve (or at least allow discussion on) the many appointments the President is obligated to fill, THEN get out of the way and let someone else govern.

    January 4, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  8. tor5

    I sure get a kick out of Bohner’s serial hysteria. Suddenly he’s worried about precedents and power grabs. Funny, I don’t recall such concerns when his teabag fanatics used the debt ceiling in a completely unprecedented attempt to send the entire country into default.

    January 4, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  9. Name king

    I am sick and tired of being slam by the man. Obama its has passed time you stood up to the repubs and their corporate greedy buddies and do something for the average American consumers.

    January 4, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  10. rude

    Wow! Republicans mad that they didn't get a chance to gridlock some more.

    January 4, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  11. bullock w

    I said mocked out of presdient that is true cause obama have too much problems his job for 4 year also presdient obama are keep love play games for 4)year

    January 4, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  12. dan

    If Congress is not on recess, then it must be meeting and transacting the people's business every day. If that's true, then there's a bridge in Brooklyn for sale as well. The "not on recess" rationale is rubbish.

    January 4, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  13. Sandy

    Too bad Republicans!

    January 4, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  14. Ray Hopkins

    Two words: John Bolton


    January 4, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  15. Michelle

    0bama is a communist dictator.

    January 4, 2012 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  16. Michelle

    While our debt is growing significantly under 0bama, this dangerous socialist still keeps expandING the government! He will not stop damaging our country until we stop him in November 2012!

    January 4, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  17. Mad Ed

    What else can we expect from a "do-it-behind-your back" White House occupant?

    January 4, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  18. NES5000B

    Too bad. The GOP has stopped this administration to do what needs to be done. Obama tried to work with them – but now, it's on! Because of this, he has regained the support of disillusioned Democrats because he is no longer buckling to the GOP and tea partiers (who do not represent the majority of this nation as shown in the pathetic voter turnout in 2010).

    January 4, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  19. Jilli

    Well, if they're angry they should be angry at themselves. The republicans were the ones that refused to consider any candidates for the consumer protection board – so Obama did what he needed to do to get the job done. The nlrb was the same story – the republicans played their games, refused to do the jobs they were elected to do, and the president did what was necessary. Be angry at yourselves republicans – you created the problem, and the adult needed to step in. Do you think Mitch McConnells head will explode?

    January 4, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  20. Namryan

    Finally! Go for it Mr. President! Republicans want to cripple your administration anyway! Doesn't matter you meet them mid way, at this point do what is right for the Nation!

    January 4, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    How mad do they think the american people are at them for not filling the positions?

    January 4, 2012 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  22. AJ

    Of course the right-wing, Bible thumping hypocrites would be furious at the thought of someone actually enforcing laws. Republicans are the most greedy, horrible people on the planet.

    January 4, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |

    Did Obama ruin your obstruction party?

    January 4, 2012 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  24. Tiller in Texas

    I think we, the people, are furious the GOP can't do anything but say "NO" and obstruct. The current republican field says it all, McCrazy endorsing Mcdull.......Yaaawwnnn.... A bunch of tired, do nothings, that are sitting around waiting for another war. Look, Romney was the hatchet man in Big Corp. for years, no denial there! Does he really think he can stand the heat in a general election??? NOPE He has only been trying for 20 years...GGGeeezzzzzz.

    January 4, 2012 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  25. lisa2010

    what is all the fuss about??? this man suppose to be the watch dog for the middle class people, so big banks, mortgage companies and big businesses don't take advantage of the little guy??? i figure everybody in congress would be all for it.. what's the deal, Obama has the eyes and ears out there to watch out for US, isn't that what congress is all about, the american people... why are they trying to block this... you go Mr. President, if Congress doesn't want to watch out for us, and least i know you'll be there... unless the republicans has something to hide, i mean all their actions so far is to help out the rich, (and they say they are the job creators) just trying to get on the good side of the american people... come republs what are you trying to hide??????

    January 4, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
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