Central View: Appointments: The president offers a deal
An imaginary conversation between the President and the Senate Majority Leader: “Mitch, thanks for coming,” began the President. “Today, I want to discuss the presidential appointment process. And, in particular, the subject of ‘recess appointments.’”
“Yes, Mr. President, you have the opportunity to fill almost 4,000 high-level Executive Branch positions. Twelve hundred of them require Senate confirmation. About 2,800 do not.”
“Mitch, when President Reagan was asked how many people work in Washington, D.C. President Reagan said, ‘About half.’ So, don’t hold your breath waiting for me to send you a list of 1,200 nominations that require Senate confirmation.
“But, when I do send you nominations, those are people who are supportive of the pledges I made to the people who elected me. For them, I would like prompt consideration. Mitch, that has not always been the case.”
“How so, Mr. President?”
“Well, for example, by Nov. 19 of his first year in office, President G.W. Bush had 455 confirmed appointees, President Obama had 310 confirmed appointees, but, so far, I have had only 203 appointees confirmed. Mitch, is there a reason for this?”
“Mr. President, that’s because the Democrats are using parliamentary maneuvers to prevent many of your nominees from being confirmed.”
“Mitch, when the other side pulls a trick, you counter it by coming up with a maneuver of your own.”
“Mr. President, what do you have in mind?”
“According to Article II, Section 2, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution: ‘The President shall have the power to fill up Vacancies that can happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.’
“Mitch, I would not be the first President to use recess appointments. For example, President Reagan made 232 recess appointments, President George H.W. Bush made 171, President Clinton made 139, President G.W. Bush made 78, and President Barack H. Obama made 32. Mitch, how many recess appointments have I made?”
“None, Mr. President.”
“And why is that the case, Mr. Majority Leader?”
“Because the Senate has been in continuous normal or pro forma session ever since your inauguration.”
“Mitch, if there is a conspiracy to prevent me from making recess appointments, your Republican colleagues better not be behind it. If that were so and if word of it got out, my base would not vote for another Republican. Not even for dog catcher.
“Mitch, here is a list of nominees you say are being held up by the Democrats. If anyone on that list does not meet your approval, I will reconsider. But for the names we agree on today, I want you to put the Senate in recess for three or more days over Christmas That way, I can do even more of what the people elected me to do. Do we have deal?”
“But, Mr. President, what if the Democrats refuse to go into recess?”
“Then, the public will know which party to blame. So, do we have a deal?”
“I, ah, need time to consider.”
“Mitch, please, be quick. Otherwise, I may feel a Tweet coming on.”
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and was a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. Dr. Hamilton is the author of The Wit and Wisdom of William Hamilton: The Sage of Sheepdog Hill, Pegasus Imprimis Press (2017).
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