WASHINGTON (AP) – Fed up with waiting, President Barack Obama announced Saturday he would bypass a vacationing Senate and name 15 people to key administration jobs, wielding for the first time the blunt political tool known as the recess appointment.
The move immediately deepened the divide between the Democratic president and Republicans in the Senate following a long, bruising fight over health care. Obama revealed his decision by blistering Republicans, accusing them of holding up nominees for months solely to try to score a political advantage on him.
“I simply cannot allow partisan politics to stand in the way of the basic functioning of government,” Obama said in a statement.
The 15 appointees to boards and agencies include the contentious choice of union lawyer Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. Republicans had blocked his nomination on grounds he would bring a radical pro-union agenda to the job, and they called on Obama not to appoint Becker over the recess.
Obama went ahead anyway, while also choosing a second member for the labor board so that four of its five slots will be filled. The labor board, which referees labor-management disputes, has had a majority of its seats vacant for more than two years, raising questions about the legality of its rulings.
Overall, the appointments will take place through next week, allowing people to make the transition to their new jobs, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki. said. The news of Becker’s appointment drew the quickest ire from Republicans.
“Once again the administration showed that it had little respect for the time honored constitutional roles and procedures of Congress,” said Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Obama’s foe in the 2008 presidential election. “This is clear payback by the administration to organized labor.”
Both Republican and Democratic presidents have made recess appointments, which circumvents the Senate’s authority to confirm nominees, when they could not overcome delays. President George W. Bush made more than 170 such appointments in his two-term presidency. President Bill Clinton made nearly 140.
Obama had been on record as warning of recess appointments if the Senate didn’t act. He followed through at the end of a week in which his political standing was significantly bolstered by the party-line passage of a historic health care bill, a student loan overhaul and a hard-fought nuclear arms treaty with Russia.
The White House dropped the news in a press release on a quiet Saturday, with Obama at Camp David and lawmakers home in their districts.
To read more, visit: http://apnews.myway.com/article/20100327/D9EN7A9O0.html
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