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House Republicans File Resolution Criticizing Recess Picks

Rep. Diane Black (Tenn.) and 71 other House Republicans introduced a nonbinding resolution today voicing concern over President Barack Obama’s recess appointment of four administration nominees last week.

“It’s astounding to me that the president is claiming these are recess appointments and within his authority, when Congress was not in fact in recess,” Black said. “These appointments are an affront to the Constitution. No matter how you look at this, it doesn’t pass the smell test. I hope the House considers my resolution as soon as we return to Washington so we can send a message to President Obama.”

The resolution would express the sense of the House that the president misused his authority in making four recent recess appointments.

To prevent recess appointments from President George W. Bush, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pioneered the idea that both chambers would meet in pro-forma sessions.

Bush never challenged the pro-forma sessions, but Obama did last week. He said that the sessions were a gimmick and that Congress was actually in recess, giving him the opportunity to make the appointments.

He appointed Richard Cordray to be head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and filled three slots on the National Labor Relations Board, including one Republican position.

Republicans had been holding up Cordray over their concerns that the CFPB chief had too much power and should be funded through the regular appropriations process. Obama said that he needed to install Cordray to allow the agency to fulfill its consumer protection mandate. The White House also argued that the NLRB needed the additional members to have a quorum to conduct business.

Since Obama’s move, Republicans have charged that it is an expansion of executive power at the expense of the Senate’s “advise and consent” role on nominations. They also question whether the White House interpretation that Congress is in recess is correct in an effort to cast doubt over the legitimacy of the appointments and their activities. They also expect a lawsuit raising that question to be brought by a company that is regulated by the agencies.

“While the administration is using these appointments as an election-year ploy, there are legitimate concerns that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as currently established, has no Congressional oversight and is not even subject to the appropriations process,” Black said. “No executive agency should be immune from the checks and balances our founders intended. What’s more, the NLRB appointments were jammed through by the president before the Senate even had the chance to consider the appointees. Their names were only put forward on Dec. 15, a mere two days before the Senate recessed for the holiday. The president is clearly out of bounds here and should not be allowed to skirt the Constitution as he pleases.”

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