The Washington Post

Recess appointments cloud prospects for streamlining bill

President Obama’s nomination of Richard Cordray may have a ripple effect on Capitol Hill. (Haraz N. Ghanbari/Associated Press)

One possible victim of the sour mood caused by the recess appointments is a heretofore innocuous, bipartisan bill that would streamline the Senate confirmation process.

The bill, which is aimed at making the notoriously laborious chamber more efficient by reducing the number of presidential appointees requiring a Senate vote, cleared the Senate back in July. Since then, it’s been languishing in the House.

And now, we’re hearing that the bill might never see the light of day.

The subject of confirmations has turned toxic on Capitol Hill, where Republicans in both chambers are smarting from Obama’s end-run around Senate Republicans’ gambit to keep the president from making recess appointments by technically keeping the chamber in session — even though the “sessions” lasted mere seconds each day.

“The president pretty much poisoned the well on the whole subject matter,” says one Republican staffer. “If you bring that bill up now, you’d get a big fight.”

Advocates for the bill were hoping for smoother sailing. They anticipated the House would simply pass the bill in deference to the Senate — since Senate GOP leaders backed it, and because it deals solely with the business of “the upper chamber.”

“This should be the Senate’s prerogative, and we would hope that the House would defer to that judgement,” says Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, a bipartisan good-government group.

While that might — might — have been the case just a few weeks ago, it’s certainly not now.

It’s a new ball game.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.