President Obama has once again flexed his autocratic muscle by disregarding the Congress and unilaterally filling seats on the National Labor Relations Board and appointing former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to be the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
In Peter Schroeder’s recent article in The Hill, he reports that David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, posits two constitutional pretexts allowing the President to place someone in office whose nomination has already been blocked by the Senate.
First, Arkush insists that Art. 2, Sec.3, of the U.S. Constitution authorizes the President to force the House and Senate to adjourn. Then, once Congress has obeyed that presidential mandate, the President may then lawfully make a “recess appointment.”
Next, Arkush argues that the 20th Amendment orders Congress to assemble at least once a year, with each session beginning on Jan. 3. Arkush says that in order to be able to start a session on Jan. 3, Congress would have to have ended a previous session, thus leaving a gap between the last session and the current session during which the President may squeeze in and make “recess appointments,” obviating the approbation of the Senate.
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Photo: President Obama speaks on appointing Richard Cordray, January 4: White House photo