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President Obama Makes a Bold Recess Appointment

By Kelly Thomas - Posted on 04 January 2012

Link from TPM. Gotta love it! Looks like the GOP won't be able to kill the Consumer Protection Agency afterall.

No surprise here. Top Republicans are ripping President Obama’s decision to recess appoint his top consumer watchdog, Richard Cordray.

“Although the Senate is not in recess, President Obama, in an unprecedented move, has arrogantly circumvented the American people by ‘recess’ appointing Richard Cordray as director of the new CFPB,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in an official statement. “This recess appointment represents a sharp departure from a long-standing precedent that has limited the President to recess appointments only when the Senate is in a recess of 10 days or longer. Breaking from this precedent lands this appointee in uncertain legal territory, threatens the confirmation process and fundamentally endangers the Congress’s role in providing a check on the excesses of the executive branch.”

House Speaker John Boehner said, “This action goes beyond the President’s authority, and I expect the courts will find the appointment to be illegitimate.”

It’s unclear who would have legal standing to challenge Cordray’s recess appointment, though we’re looking into that and trying to suss out which stakeholders — both in Washington and in the financial services world — would have an appetite for it.

On the unprecedented nature of the appointment, McConnell and Boehner have a decent case. Both parties have used pro forma sessions to avoid recesses and thus block Presidents from making recess appointments — and, kosher or not, Presidents have respected this. Note — this is why some Cordray advocates were hoping to see him recess appointed yesterday, instead of today.

Legal experts have opined on both sides of the argument. Former top Bush administration lawyers argued in 2010 that Obama should pick this very fight with the Senate.

To mitigate the inter-party controversy, Democrats will note that Obama recess appointed Cordray because Republicans had vowed to block all CFPB nominees — in effect crippling it — until the agency was fundamentally weakened by statute. This too was unprecedented, and constituted a nullification of a key part of the Dodd-Frank law over policy objectives Republicans did not have enough backing to enact through the normal legislative process.

But now that Obama has called the Senate’s bluff on the use of pro forma sessions to block recess appointments, either the courts will have to weigh in, or that defensive practice will likely disappear.

The beauty is that President Obama seems to have chosen this fight on purpose, knowing Republicans could not resist taking the bait. He probably knew:

1. The Republicans would try to fight it in court or at least threaten to which will draw media coverage

2. The Republicans would have temper tantrums in public which will further highlight the contrast showing President Obama fighting for consumers and Republicans fighting against the protection of consumers.

3. The public will be shown WHY this is happening: Republican obstructionism plain and simple (threatening to block any appointments to prevent an agency from being formed.)

3. It sends a message to Republicans that if they are going to abuse their power then President Obama will find a way to override their obstruction

This was a bold, well-calculated move and I give it a big thumbs-up.

President Obama and the Democrats standing up for the 99% while Republicans protect the 1%. Do we have a theme here?

Excerpts from President Obama's prepared remarks in Cleveland, Ohio.

The only reason Republicans in the Senate have blocked Richard is because they don't agree with the law setting up the consumer watchdog. They want to weaken it. Well that makes no sense at all. Does anyone think the reason we got in such a financial mess was because of too much oversight? Of course not. We shouldn't be weakening oversight and accountability. We should be strengthening it—especially when it comes to looking out for families like yours. Financial firms have armies of lobbyists in Washington looking out for their interests. It's time someone fought for you, too.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement on President Obama’s decision to recess appoint Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

“Today, President Obama acted to protect consumers against some of the worst abuses in the financial marketplace by appointing Richard Cordray the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Senate Republican obstructionism has until now prevented the bureau from fulfilling its mandate from Congress to oversee some of the worse anti-consumer practices of non-bank financial services providers, like payday lenders, debt collectors, and check-cashing outlets.

“Richard Cordray has spent his career fighting for consumers, for Main Street, and for America’s middle class. With his appointment, Richard Cordray will bring transparency and accountability to an area of consumer finance long overdue for stronger oversight, and I commend this strong action by President Obama.”


Take that Republicans...more recess appointments.

President Obama on Wednesday announced his intent to recess appoint Sharon Block, Terence Flynn and Richard Griffin as members of the National Labor Relations Board, according to a White House release.

Love it! As Mitt Romney calls the recess appointments "Chicago Style Politics" (can they not come up with more creative attacks?) we get this from Scott Brown who is clearly worried about Elizabeth Warren. Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) is officially on board with President Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, sending reporters the following statement: I support President Obama’s appointment today of Richard Cordray to head the CFPB. I believe he is the right person to lead the agency and help protect consumers from fraud and scams. While I would have strongly preferred that it go through the normal confirmation process, unfortunately the system is completely broken. If we’re going to make progress as a nation, both parties in Washington need to work together to end the procedural gridlock and hyper-partisanship.

Obama makes fewer recess appointments than Reagan, Bush I, Clinton or Bush II:

About time. He won't be Mr. Nice Guy anymore! The Republicans are going to miss him.


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