Congratulations, Mr. President. You've made one special lady very "proud," even if you've done so by circumventing the document you swore an oath to uphold:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says she is “very glad” and “proud” that President Barack Obama appointed a director to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and three members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) without putting them through Senate confirmations.
Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution requires presidential appointees to be confirmed by the Senate before they can take office unless the Senate is in recess or if the appointments are to inferior offices that Congress has legally given the president the power to control. When the Senate is in recess, the president can make temporary appointments that last only until the end of the next session of Congress. However, the Senate was not in recess on Wednesday.
Kate has been all over this story -- from the announcement of these in-your-face, non-recess "recess" appointments, to the president mumbling about fulfilling his 'obligations,' or whatever. Pelosi's cheerleading, however, represents a new low in shamelessness. Over to you, Wall Street Journal editors:
Remember those terrible days of the Imperial Presidency, when George W. Bush made several "recess appointments" to overcome Senate opposition? Well, Czar George II never did attempt what President Obama did yesterday in making recess appointments when Congress isn't even on recess. Eager to pick a fight with Congress as part of his re-election campaign, Mr. Obama did the Constitutional equivalent of sticking a thumb in its eye and hitting below the belt. He installed Richard Cordray as the first chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and named three new members to the National Labor Relations Board. He did so even though the Senate was in pro forma session after the new Congress convened this week.
A President has the power to make a recess appointment, and we've supported Mr. Obama's right to do so. The Constitutional catch is that Congress must be in recess. The last clause of Section 5 of Article 1 of the Constitution says that "Neither House" of Congress can adjourn for more than three days "without the Consent of the other" house. In this case, the House of Representatives had not formally consented to Senate adjournment. It's true the House did this to block the President from making recess appointments, but it is following the Constitution in doing so. Let's hear Mr. Obama's legal justification.
Democrats had used a similar process to try to thwart Mr. Bush's recess appointments late in his term when they controlled both the House and the Senate. Prodded by West Virginia's Robert C. Byrd, who has since died, Majority Leader Harry Reid kept the Senate in pro forma session. Some advisers urged Mr. Bush to ignore the Senate and make recess appointments anyway, but he declined. Now Mr. Reid is supporting Mr. Obama's decision to make an end run around a Senate practice that he pioneered.
In short, Democrats conceptualized and implemented the pro-forma Senate session as a stroke of obstructionist genius. Its sole purpose was to legally, if irritatingly, block President Bush from installing insufficiently "enlightened" characters through recess appointments. Even though Bush allies brayed about the practice, the president respected the rule of law, and the Democrats' neat trick prevailed. Now that the Oval Office is occupied by an ideological fellow traveler, Congressional Democrats are applauding the president for deliberately ignoring the Constitution's separation of powers and adopting an unprecedented interpretation of its explicit wording in order to bypass the very maneuver they invented. Brazen. Between this episode and Harry Reid's stunning mini-nuclear option gambit in October, it's clear that Democrats are willing to do and say absolutely anything to advance their statist agenda. No previously-held positions or statements are relevant, no long-standing precedent is safe, and no document -- including the Constitution -- is sacred. Leftism is paramount. The "Democratic" Party is unworthy of the word from which its name is derived.
I'll leave you with this clip from Pelosi's presser yesterday, in which she laments Republicans' supposed inaction on jobs:
Setting aside Nancy's mindless Mediscare babble (how...familiar), let's quickly examine her "where are the jobs?" whinging:
(1) It's a bit rich listening to these sorts of complaints from a woman whose Speakership was defined by the passage of massive, job-killing federal power grabs. Democrats had two full, unimpeded years to institute anything they pleased, and House Democrats chose to exploit that moment to concoct a failed stimulus, and pass two job-crushing measures: Obamacare and Cap & Trade.
(2) Pelosi complains about the Republican budget. Fair enough -- I bet she prefers the Democrat-controlled Senate's version. Oh wait.
(3) Republicans have passed dozens of jobs bills this session, most of which have died in Harry Reid's Senate. The majority of the GOP efforts have dealt with easing federal regulatory burdens, which most business owners cite as their greatest impediment to growth. Democrats have opposed these efforts, by and large. Their claim that Republicans have done nothing on jobs legislation has been rated as a "pants on fire" lie by left-leaning Politifact.
(4) These stubborn, do-nothing Republicans have actually agreed to pass several major elements of President Obama's (mostly flawed) jobs agenda. They've ratified three free trade agreements, voted for patent reform, repealed a damaging three percent withholding rule, and compromised on a payroll tax extension. The White House advocated each and every one of these measures.
(5) While we're on the subject of the payroll tax controversy, it's worth noting that one of the primary reasons many Democrats -- including Pelosi -- voted against the GOP versions of those bills was the Keystone pipeline provision. Their "green" sensibilities were too offended to approve a project that even some in their own party admit would create thousands of American jobs and promote energy independence. If Pelosi wants to know where the jobs are, someone ought to direct her to the pipeline project she's actively worked to clog up.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography
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