Harry Reid: Obama should issue recess appointments if Senate confirmation logjam persists


Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) (Mark Wilson/GETTY IMAGES)

The vast majority of the nominees “are not controversial,” Reid said on the Senate floor Friday, and they deserve up or down votes shortly after next week’s recess.

“Not everything we do here in the Senate should be a fight,” Reid said. “Virtually every one of these nominees could be approved today if the Senate Republicans would cooperate.”

“If something doesn’t break here, I am going to recommend to the president he recess appoint all these people, every one of them,” Reid added later. “It’s not unique. The power to recess appoint is in our Constitution. … And I repeat, if we don’t have some significant action during the next work period, I am going to ask the president – I mean, I can ask if I want to, and he doesn’t have to respond affirmatively – but I’m going to ask him to appoint them all.”

(Related: What is a recess appointment?)

Nominees awaiting a vote include two Republican and three Democratic picks to serve on the board of directors at the Corporation for National and Community Service who have waited almost seven months, according to Reid’s office.

Rebecca Blank, acting deputy secretary of commerce, also has waited more than 70 days. Maurice Jones, nominee to serve as a deputy secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, has been awaiting a vote for 66 days, Reid’s office said.

In all, about 90 executive and judicial branch nominees are awaiting votes. The list kept by Reid’s office doesn’t include military promotions.

Senate Republicans balked at Reid’s threat.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a leading critic of Obama’s recent decision to issue recess appointments during a brief January break, said Reid “has condoned and encouraged further use of President Obama’s unprecedented practice of making unconstitutional ‘recess’ appointments even when the Senate does not consider itself to be in recess.”

Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) noted that Reid held the Senate in pro-forma sessions for more than a year to block scores of Bush-era nominees and participated in the first filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Further reading:

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For more, visit PostPolitics and The Fed Page.

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.
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