Monday, November 19, 2007

Give Harry Reid The Praise He's Due

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is once again the subject of criticism for spinelessness for what seems like a capitulation on war funding. This criticism is well-deserved.

However, Reid also deserves credit for his willingness to play hardball with President Bush when it comes to nominations and recess appointments.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said he would schedule "pro forma" sessions during the two-week break, even though lawmakers will be absent and no business will be conducted.

According to the Senate website, traditionally, a pro-forma session is "a brief meeting ... held usually to satisfy the constitutional obligation that neither chamber can adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other." When confronted with a non-traditional president like George W. Bush, it has another use.

Pursuant to Clause 2 of Section 2 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution, the president

by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for.

When the Senate is not in Session, Clause 3 of that section states that

[t]he President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies
that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall
expire at the End of their next Session

According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, the purpose of the power in this clause was "to allow the President to maintain the continuity of administrative government through the temporary filling of offices during periods when the Senate was not in session."

However, in recent times, Presidents have used recess appointments to confirm nominees who might be rejected if the Senate were to vote on them. George Bush has used the recess appointment for this purpose more than any other president, and for some of the extremely unqualified and controversial appointees.

Some of the worst:

The Bush administration made a decision (which they almost certainly regret) to inform Senator Reid that they'd be making some recess appointments during the Thanksgiving recess. However, in violation of long-standing tradition, Bush has totally ignored Democratic recommendations to such important agencies as "the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission."

Reid decided he wouldn't let the administration have their way this time. He's scheduling pro-forma sessions throughout the Thanksgiving break to keep the Bush administration from making any recess appointments.

For this, at least, he deserves praise.

1 comment:

Terrapin Station84 said...

Noticed you took the JE link off your dkos sig. 'Sup with that?

Just wondering.