President Barack Obama made three recess appointments on Wednesday and urged Senate Republicans to stop holding up more than 180 of his nominees for political reasons.
Obama announced that he was appointing Dr. Donald Berwick as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the Health and Human Services Department, Philip E. Coyle III as associate director for national security and international affairs at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Joshua Gotbaum as director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
The president called each of the nominees “extremely qualified” and lamented that GOP resistance has prevented many of his nominees from moving into “vitally important positions.”
“It’s unfortunate that at a time when our nation is facing enormous challenges, many in Congress have decided to delay critical nominations for political purposes,” he said.
Obama nominated Berwick in April to be CMS administrator, but Republicans have tied the nomination to their criticism of this year’s health care overhaul. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday blasted Obama for trying to “arrogantly circumvent the American people” by installing Berwick with a recess appointment. McConnell described Berwick as “one of the most prominent advocates of rationed health care.”
Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) blasted the president for appointing Berwick while Congress is out of town. The move “does nothing to promote bipartisan trust in the administration,” he said.