President Obama signaled last night that he does not intend to make recess appointments next week for three top Justice Department nominees who have languished in the Senate since last year.
In a statement following the confirmation of 27 nominees last night, the president indicated that he didn’t plan to make recess appointments while Congress is gone for the President’s Day recess next week for Dawn Johnsen for the Office of Legal Counsel, Mary L. Smith for the Tax Division and Christopher Schroeder for the Office of Legal Policy. But he didn’t rule out bypassing Senate confirmation in the future for some nominees.
“While this is a good first step, there are still dozens of nominees on hold who deserve a similar vote, and I will be looking for action from the Senate when it returns from recess,” Obama said. “If they do not act, I reserve the right to use my recess appointment authority in the future.”
A recess appointment lasts until the end of the next congressional session. Recess appointments are done infrequently, because they usurp the Senate’s constitutional role, angering many senators. During his tenure President George W. Bush made a number of recess appointments, spawning objections from Democrats.
Obama said he was “gratified” that Senate Republicans lifted their holds on nominees that allowed the Senate to confirm three U.S. Attorneys, a DOJ director and 23 other nominees last night before it left Washington for a week-long “state work period.”
The Johnsen, Smith and Schroeder nominations were stalled in the Senate last year for months before they were returned to the White House in December. President Obama renominated them in January.