Thursday, January 5, 2012

What's really at stake with the recess appointments

With all of the Republican obstruction of President Obama's nominees these last couple of years, the question becomes "why did he chose appointments to the CFPA and NLRB as the place to take this stand?" Many pundits are seeing this as the end of the President's attempts at bipartisanship due to the intransigence coming from the other side of the isle. There may be some truth to that. But I think it goes much deeper.

Most of us are aware that the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) was created as part of the Dodd/Frank Wall Street reform. Cordray will be the inaugural director of this newly created agency set up to protect consumers. The Republican's objections aren't about Cordray or his qualifications. They have promised to stop any nominee from being appointed to head this agency until its functions are basically neutered. That is a VERY different situation than the one where Democrats objected to George W. Bush's nomination of John Bolton as Ambassador to the UN. The equivalent would have been an objection to ANY appointment until our relationship with the UN was either terminated or essentially neutered.

The same is basically true of the recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). President Obama has nominated people for 3 openings there. One of them, Terence Flynn (who has served as the NLRB counsel), is a Republican. But the Republican's obstruction of these appointments has nothing to do with the specific people involved.

The board, which referees labor-management disputes and oversees union elections, has been a prime target for Republicans and business groups since it filed a controversial lawsuit last year that accused Boeing of illegally retaliating against union members.

That case was dismissed last month after Boeing and the union settled their differences. But Republicans are still incensed over the board’s approval last month of sweeping new rules to speed up the union election process, making it easier for unions to gain new members.

Obama’s action prevents the board from losing much of its power for the rest of the year. The NLRB is supposed to have five members, but it has operated for months with only three. This week, it is down to just two members, after Democrat Craig Becker completed his term. The agency is not allowed to conduct regular business with only two members.
(Emphasis mine)

As people note the history of recess appointments, lets remember that those nominees have usually been blocked due to objections to the specific person involved. This time its different...we're talking about a minority in the Senate attempting to disable the functioning of agencies that have been approved via legislation.

It should come as no surprise to any of us that Republicans in this Congress are taking their obstruction into whole new extremes. And its important that we keep the focus there when talking about what President Obama did yesterday with these recess appointments.

1 comment:

  1. It is quite possible that these appointments were selected due to their innocuousness. Both organizations are important. Both are capable of huge changes in society.

    But consider if the courts declare the process to be illegal. The negative effects of reversing the decisions will be less than that of a Federal judge.