The most exciting political news of the day (and of the year, so far) is that President Obama has appointed Richard Cordray to be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau while congress is out of session, utilizing his executive power to make recess appointments. This comes after almost two years of Republican Obstructionism that has filibustered any final vote from being held in the Senate on whether the President’s appointees for the position could be considered for the job. And when I say appointees – plural – that’s because Richard Cordray is the second candidate that President Obama has chosen for the position without any movement from congress to begin the nomination process.
Of course, whiney House Republican leader John Boehner wasn’t very excited to hear the news today. Addressing the matter, he released a statement which read:
“This is an extraordinary and entirely unprecedented power grab by President Obama that defies centuries of practice and the legal advice of his own Justice Department,” Boehner said. “The precedent that would be set by this cavalier action would have a devastating effect on the checks and balances that are enshrined in our Constitution.”
The “precedent” that Boehner is referring to is that the president can only make recess appointments if there is a congressional recess that is at least 10 days long. In order to make sure that 10 days don’t go by when the congress has been out on longer breaks, Republicans have been holding quick, seconds-long “pro forma” sessions periodically to make any presidential recess appointments impossible.
The Obama Administration has countered the Republicans so far by arguing that Congress is blocking the President from exerting his constitutionally mandated authority. Or as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney put it: ”When the Congress refuses to act, the president will. The fact of the matter is that the Senate has been in recess and will continue to be in recess.”
It’s a no-brainer that Republicans will try to bring this decision to court. But that’s pretty much the most idiotic thing that they could possibly do to themselves, since Obama will easily be able to cast the GOP as defenders of the 1% and not the middle class during an election year.
Besides all of this, I think that the chart below is a good reminder of how much Boehner’s contention that Obama’s decision to make a recess appointment is an “unprecedented power grab.” You can clearly see that Obama has made the least amount of recess appointments out of every single president since Ronald Reagan.
Chart Source: ThinkProgress