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Recess Appointments ‘Fuel on the Fire,’ Alexander Says

Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) on Sunday decried the recess appointments of controversial National Labor Relations Board nominee Craig Becker and 14 others by President Barack Obama this weekend.

“What the president has done here is thrown fuel on the fire at a time when the debate about politics is a very angry debate to begin with,” Alexander said on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Candy Crowley.

But in the interview, Alexander and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said they are also calling for detente on Capitol Hill after weeks of charged rhetoric over the health care debate, which has proved to be a fundraising boon for Members of both parties.

“We shouldn’t have over-the-top actions,” Alexander said. “It’s just as wrong for Senator Reid to call President Bush a liar as it is for a Republican Congressman to call President Obama a liar. We need to tone it down in this country and have a civil debate and respect one another.”

Mikulski added, “I’m really concerned about how we’re perceived in our own country and how we’re perceived around the world. If we don’t take ourselves seriously and act in a serious way, we’re not going to be taken seriously by the American people. Let’s stop rewarding outrageous and bizarre behavior.”

Mikulski also defended Becker’s appointment, saying that “every president has used recess appointments.” She also said the White House’s decision to nominate Becker while Members are out of town underscores the need to reform the Senate’s rules.

“We’ve got to reform the institution. A Senator should be able to put a hold on a nomination but not do it for an indefinite period of time and not put a name on it,” Mikulski said. “We’ve got to streamline the procedures of the senate, so that they’re not holdovers — no pun intended — from an old century.”

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