Is the Blocking of Recess Appointments Unconstitutional?

By:  Joe Wolverton, II
08/29/2011
       
Is the Blocking of Recess Appointments Unconstitutional?

A recent article in the Washington Post posited that the obstruction by the Congress of presidential recess appointments is unconstitutional.  This debate emerged in light of the fact that currently, there is a backlog of presidential appointments. There are two explanations for this. First, President Obama has yet to nominate people to fill various executive and judicial branch openings. For example, a new chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers has yet to be named and there are two empty seats on the Federal Reserve board. The second reason behind the logjam is the Senate’s reluctance to confirm those nominees already submitted by the President for that body’s approval.

There is, however, a third less obvious factor slowing the appointment process. Using a potent parliamentary tactic, the House of Representatives has acted to keep both houses of the legislative branch in “pro forma” session throughout the August break in order to prevent President Obama from bypassing the advice and consent of the Senate by making what is known as recess appointments.

A recent article in the Washington Post posited that the obstruction by the Congress of presidential recess appointments is unconstitutional.

This debate emerged in light of the fact that currently, there is a backlog of presidential appointments. There are two explanations for this. First, President Obama has yet to nominate people to fill various executive and judicial branch openings. For example, a new chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers has yet to be named and there are two empty seats on the Federal Reserve board. The second reason behind the logjam is the Senate’s reluctance to confirm those nominees already submitted by the President for that body’s approval.

There is, however, a third less obvious factor slowing the appointment process. Using a potent parliamentary tactic, the House of Representatives has acted to keep both houses of the legislative branch in “pro forma” session throughout the August break in order to prevent President Obama from bypassing the advice and consent of the Senate by making what is known as recess appointments.

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