It looks like House conservatives are spoiling for a fight over Obama’s decision to make recess appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and to the National Labor Relations Board.
This is a battle Dems relish, because it would give them an opportunity to cast Repulicans as hostile to Obama’s efforts to protect consumers from financial companies. House conservatives, meanwhile, would also like this fight because it will energize their base and allow them to push the narrative that Obama is pushing his agenda through via a tyrannical abuse of power.
Roll Call reports that GOP Rep. Diane Black and 71 other Republicans are introducing a nonbinding resolution condemning the appointments, which include Richard Cordray to head the CFPB. The question is whether the House GOP leadership will allow a vote on it, which would lead to the fight. A GOP aide tells me the leadership “is reviewing all options, including this resolution.”
Republicans have argued that Congress isn’t really in recess; the basis for this claim is that the Senate has been doing “pro forma” sessions, which critics dismiss as a sham.
But there seems to be an unintended irony in Black’s statement.She seems to inadvertently admit that Congress is currently indulging in something that certainly seems like a recess:
“These appointments are an affront to the Constitution. No matter how you look at this, it doesn’t pass the smell test. I hope the House considers my resolution as soon as we return to Washington so we can send a message to President Obama.”...
“No executive agency should be immune from the checks and balances our founders intended. What’s more, the NLRB appointments were jammed through by the president before the Senate even had the chance to consider the appointees. Their names were only put forward on Dec. 15, a mere two days before the Senate recessed for the holiday. The president is clearly out of bounds here and should not be allowed to skirt the Constitution as he pleases.”
Ah, well. At any rate, if this fight does happen, the politics could get very interesting. While it certainly would rev up Republicans and draw applause from conservative commentators, it would also play into the White House strategy we saw during the payroll tax cut fight. Dems would try to entrap Republicans in an argument about process, while the White House is talking about its policies and what they would do to protect the middle class against the excess of Wall Street.
Brian Beutler has more about the challenge this poses to the GOP leadership. But a House GOP aide emails me a dismissive quote: “The idea that this is a problem for Leadership is pretty dumb. We’re all outraged by the President’s actions, and there are plenty of ways to communicate that without taking our focus off jobs.”