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GOP lawmakers fired up (and ready to sue) over recess appointments

It did not take long for Congressional Republicans to seize on the controversial recess appointments President Barack Obama made last week.

On Friday GOP members of the Senate judiciary Committee, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley, sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder pressing him to disclose just what role the Department of Justice played in advising the president on the recess appointments.

As has been well reported, Obama appointed Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and three members – Sharon Block, Richard Griffin and Terence F. Flynn – to the NLRB. The Senate had previously filibustered Cordray’s nomination and stalled the NLRB nominees, allowing the Board to fall below its statutory quorum the day before Obama made the recess appointments.

Obama made the move despite efforts by lawmakers to prevent Congress from recessing by repeatedly gaveling in pro forma sessions over the holiday break.

The lawmakers’ letter stated that the appointments went against opinions issued by past attorneys general, the U.S. Supreme Court and other authorities that “clearly indicate the view that a congressional recess must be longer than three days – and perhaps at least as long as ten — in order for a recess appointment to be constitutional.  These various authorities have reached this conclusion for over 90 years and have become the stated position of the Executive Branch, including multiple representations before the Supreme Court, regarding the required length of time for a recess in order for the President to make a recess appointment.”

Meanwhile, last week Rep. Bill Johnson threatened a lawsuit over the matter.

“Dodd-Frank made it very clear that to set it up it must have Senate approval,” Johnson told Fox Business’ Neil Cavuto (see it here via The Hill). “And the president cannot just arbitrarily change the rules or decide on his own the Senate’s definition of when it’s in session and when it’s not in session.”

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