There are only a few days left until Congress returns to session, and that means President Obama faces a deadline, of sorts, if he wants to quickly fill vacancies in his administration. Obama has until the beginning of next week to offer recess appointments to nominees or expected nominees to positions that typically require Senate confirmation.
Highlighting the progressive angst about Obama’s general unwillingness to exercise his recess appointment power are new website ads, produced by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, pressuring him to give Elizabeth Warren the top slot at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
PCCC has partnered with Credo mobile to petition the White House to let Warren head the CFPB.
Warren is the most high-profile candidate for a recess appointment, but Obama has a much broader problem: he’s nominated scores of people to important positions in the government who have languished for weeks or months — either because the Senate calendar too full or because the GOP is too recalcitrant to allow them to be confirmed (or both).
Included in that raft are nominees to the Fed Board of Governors, who could help change monetary policy in ways that will boost employment.
Obama has made few high-profile recess appointments, most recently Donald Berwick who is now running the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Republicans had been blocking Berwick who will play a crucial role in the implementation of the health care law, leaving Obama little choice. But other nominees haven’t been so lucky in the past. For instance, after languishing for over a year, with little help from the administration or Senate Democrats, progressive favorite Dawn Johnsen’s nomination to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel was withdrawn.
As if to accentuate the point, an Associated Press investigation published today finds that Obama has seen fewer federal judges (who can also be recess appointed) confirmed at this point in his presidency than did Richard Nixon. Throw in retirements, and it turns out that district courts are now more Republican than they were under George W. Bush.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.