Explaining Obama's Recess Appointments

A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 5 2012 9:12 AM

Explaining Obama's Recess Appointments

Yesterday, Barack Obama issues recess appointments for a new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board, but not for any other positions even though a great many nominees are languishing in the Senate without a floor vote. Near the end of last year, there was some sentiment in Democratic circles that Obama should launch an all-out war on GOP obstructionism with a huge raft of recess appointments. Some in the Treasury Department, tired of being understaffed, suggested that the CFPB and NLRB should be rolled into a comprehensive package to staff up economic policy positions, suggesting that Obama is attempting to wage all out war on joblessness and income stagnation while the GOP tries to tie his hands. Ultimately, the White House broke the other way picking a fight that's narrower than one about appointments and instead speaks to the continued existence of regulatory agencies created by duly enacted statutes.

As Brian Beutler explains the departure of Craig Becker from the NLRB "left the NLRB with only two sitting members — not enough, according to the Supreme Court, to constitute the quorum the board requires to function." Similarly, the statute creating the CFPB says it can't make legally binding regulations without a director in place. In both cases, Republicans were seeking to use their ability to filibuster nominees as a way to stealthily repeal laws they don't approve of without going through the hassle of assembling actual congressional majorities and getting the president to sign the repeal bills. The White House is seeking to challenge their ability to do that, without picking a broader fight about the general legitimacy of routinely holding up appointees.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.