Defying Senate GOP, Obama To Use Recess Appointment To Appoint Head Of CFPB
President Obama is set to announce that he will use the power granted him Article II, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution to make a recess appointment to name the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:
President Obama will announce today that he will appoint Richard Cordray as head of the controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during the Senate’s recess, the White House said.
The appointment comes to the dismay of Senate Republicans, who blocked Cordray’s nomination in order to weaken the bureau.
Speaking in a news conference after Cordray’s block Dec. 8, President Obama said he wouldn’t take any option off the table, but a recess appointment was not an option he favored.
“My hope and expectation is that the Republicans who block this nomination come to their senses,” Obama said at the news conference. “And I know that some of them have made an argument, we just want to sort of make modifications in the law. Well, they are free to introduce a bill and get that passed.”
But the Senate did not make any amendments to the power Cordray would have as head of the CFPB, focusing instead on year-end deals for the remainder of December. Without a leader, the CFPB has no jurisdiction over banking institutions, which include mortgage lenders.
The announcement will take place later today in Cleveland, where the President is scheduled to deliver an economic speech. It will be accompanied, no doubt, by the same kind of gnashing and wailing from the right that we saw the last time that the President used the recess appointment power. However, this is hardly a new thing for a President to do, and hardly limited to Democratic Presidents:
And while conservatives seem to be reacting quite strongly to this action, and to the President’s previous recess appointments last April, which one conservative blogger called an example of “Obama’s Thug-ocracy,” the truth is that recess appointments are fairly common. President Eisenhower, for example, utilized recess appointments to appoint three Supreme Court Justices — Earl Warren, William Brennan, and Potter Stewart. More recently, President Reagan made 243 recess appointments over eight years, President Bush (41) made 77 recess appointments over his one term, and President Bush (43) made 170 recess appointments in his eight years. However the second President Bush’s ability to make recess appointments was severely curtailed after 2006 when Harry Reid the devised the strategy of never adjourning the Senate.
One could also argue that Obama’s action is entirely justified given that the GOP’s block on Cordray was based not on any objection to him or his qualifications but on their effort to block the CFPB itself despite the fact that its creation has been approved by both Houses of Congress. So, expect the usual partisan outrage on this one but remember that it’s total nonsense.
[T]he lasting impact of this recess appointment will be (a) Republicans blocking even more Obama appointments, and (b) a Republican President ignoring a Democratic block on appointments regardless of the time that the Senate has been out of the chamber. Expect the GOP to press a charge of Obama as an imperial President in the fall, too.
This is likely true, although the “Imperial President” argument is quite obviously absurd. This is a power granted to the President under the Constitution of the United States which has been exercised literally hundreds of times in the past by Presidents from both parties.