Senate Dems sign off on GOP plan to block Obama recess appointments

Senate Republicans got a major concession today from Democrats during the last day of this session with a deal that will prevent President Obama from making so-called recess appointments while the membership is out of town.

The concession was largely because of a Senate rule which allows any senator to force any presidential nominee who hasn’t been voted on in the prior session to have to start the confirmation process over. GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell leveraged this rule as the Hill reports:

Under the law, the president can only make a recess appointment if the Senate is adjourned for more than three consecutive days.

By scheduling pro forma sessions twice a week, lawmakers can take away Obama’s ability to make recess appointments.

Obama had more than 110 executive- and judicial-branch nominees pending on the Senate’s executive calendar as of Wednesday afternoon. […]

Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had threatened to send Obama’s most controversial nominees back to the president if Democrats did not agree to schedule pro-forma sessions, according to a senior GOP aide.

Senate rules give McConnell this power.

That would have forced the president to resubmit the nominees to the Senate and Democrats to start their confirmation processes (including hearings) all over again. […]

His move was seen retaliation for Obama’s decision to give Donald Berwick a recess appointment to serve as the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Of course, the president still has a way to do an end-run around the Senate: the “counselor to the president” option which he used to appoint anti-business activist Elizabeth Warren. Michelle Malkin thinks that’s not likely given that President Obama doesn’t want to alienate more Democrats. I agree with that but there’s also the logistical problem that many of his nominees (ambassadors for instance) can’t by any stretch be called a czar or presidential counselor.

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