More important, what gives the head of the executive branch the authority to decide whether one house of the legislative branch is conducting serious business? Can the president decide that the quality of Senate debate is so poor on any particular day that he may deem it to be in recess?
The recess appointments Obama made are to important offices. The National Labor Relations Board last year issued a complaint against Boeing for building a $1 billion aircraft plant in South Carolina. The complaint was withdrawn only after the union representing Boeing's Washington state workers bludgeoned the company into promising more jobs there.
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, established by the Dodd-Frank Act, has unusual powers, with a guaranteed revenue stream rather than reliance on congressional appropriations and a director with a fixed term (but can it extend beyond the end of the next session of Congress?) and independence from other regulatory authorities.
On this, Obama defied not only the Constitution, but Dodd-Frank, which explicitly states that the CFPB head can only take legal action after he is confirmed by the Senate. Presumably anyone aggrieved by one of his orders will sue and probably prevail.
So the appointment may turn out to be a futile act. But, hey, it's good fodder for campaign ads.
That's substantiated by the explanation for the appointment you can find of my.barackobama.com: "When Congress refuses to act, he will."
This looks uncomfortably close to the view taken by King Louis XIV. "L'etat, c'est moi," he is supposed to have said, and you don't need John Kerry's or Mitt Romney's command of French to know that that means one man rule.
The Framers of the Constitution saw it a different way. When the Senate refuses to confirm a presidential appointee, that person does not take office. When the Senate is not in recess, the president cannot make a recess appointment.
The Framers thought it more important to limit power than for government to act quickly. Barack Obama disagrees.
Republican presidential candidates have been praising the Founding Fathers. Obama has been defying them. Interesting contrast.
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