Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 10, 2010

THE 'WILL OF THE SENATE'.... The Senate voted yesterday on Craig Becker's nomination to serve on the National Labor Relations Board. There was no doubt about his qualifications, but conservatives don't like unions, and Becker has spent his adult life working to protect the interests of America's workers. As a result, Republicans did what they always do -- they launched a filibuster.

Yesterday afternoon, the Senate voted to end debate and make a decision on the nomination. A total of 52 senators supported Becker, while 33 were opposed (several senators missed the vote due to a blizzard). Because madness has begun overcoming our political system, when the vote is 52 to 33, the 33 votes win.

Knowing that a recess appointment is a distinct possibility, Republicans immediately began calling on the White House to resist the temptation. One senator was especially amusing.

Republicans immediately called on Mr. Obama not to place Mr. Becker on the board in that fashion.

"I sincerely hope the White House does not circumvent the will of the Senate by appointing him when the Senate is out of session," Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, said.

Think about that. Hatch wants the president to respect the "will of the Senate" -- which means listening to the 33-vote minority and ignoring the 52-vote majority.

For what it's worth, President Obama seems to be warming up to using recess appointments, a step he has not yet had to take. At a press briefing yesterday, the president said:

"Surely we can set aside partisanship and do what's traditionally been done to confirm these nominations. If the Senate does not act -- and I made this very clear -- if the Senate does not act to confirm these nominees, I will consider making several recess appointments during the upcoming recess, because we can't afford to allow politics to stand in the way of a well-functioning government."

At this point, I'd be more surprised if the president didn't make some recess appointments next week.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (31)

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Obama should just make the appointments, we need a functioning government and that is just what the republicans are trying to destroy. Republicans are just a bunch of snickering fools. Is Mitch McConnell as stupid as he looks?

Posted by: Joan on February 10, 2010 at 8:02 AM | PERMALINK


Thanks for not using the standard (misleading)formulation that the Senate "rejected" the nomination.

Posted by: MW on February 10, 2010 at 8:03 AM | PERMALINK

Looks like the main thing they learned from Newt is not to brag about shutting the government down.

Posted by: Rathskeller on February 10, 2010 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

but you just watch -- hatch will get cable credit for such a reasonable solution.

Posted by: bkny on February 10, 2010 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

Why is he warning them? Recess appointments and reconciliation. Just do it.

Posted by: Marilyn on February 10, 2010 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Enough Please Mr. Obama ENOUGH! They are kicking sand in your face. Man up and kick them in the balls - give them something to really whine about

Posted by: john R on February 10, 2010 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

I admire Pres Obama's commitment to working with his opponents, to trying to come to agreement with people who have different ideas. I think at some point (which to my mind passed several months ago) he has to realize that the Republicans aren't going to agree with anything he says or does. Their electoral future hinges on the Pres being seen as a failure, and they'll support or resist whatever he resists or supports, to the point of absurdity.
I hope Pres Obama realizes this sometime soon, and takes the gloves off. He talks a lot about "fixing" Washington. IMO, he'd be better off worrying about fixing America, and let Washington go hang for awhile. Alan Grayson had a pretty pointed article in HuffPo the other day, an interesting pushback against the MSM idea that Liberals have to be polite and ashamed of their positions, or the public will punish them, while Republicans can run around screeching and flinging shit like a pack of blue-assed babbons on meth, and still be taken seriously.
Time to start flinging shit, and bloodying some noses.

Posted by: Kordo on February 10, 2010 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

Or, Dump HCR! Among registered voters in this ABC News/Washington Post poll, 48 percent say they'd support the Republican candidate in their congressional district if the midterm elections were today, 45 percent the Democrat. That's a rare level of GOP support in nearly three decades of polls

Posted by: Rick on February 10, 2010 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

If the President had any balls. ANY balls he wouldn't make a few recess appointments. He would make 70 and be done with this bullshit.

Posted by: SW on February 10, 2010 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

Puissant or pusillanimous?

Republicans are just a bunch of sniggering fools.

Sniggering? Surely.
Foolish? Not so much.

There has been no egregious downside to their obstructionism. The corporate media has chosen to enable obstruction by not covering it. In terms of gamesmanship they'd be fools NOT to keep sniping away by obstructing every damn thing.

I made a rock solid argument in last night's thread why Obama must make some recess appointments. I wasn't aware of this quote from Obama. He has no choice. He absolutely must make these appointments. It is way past time for the chief executive to execute some executive power.

Posted by: koreyel on February 10, 2010 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

IMHO, they only thing that will change after the recess appointments is we will have those positions filled. I hope he fills them all, not just "several". The republikans will still obstruct and delay just like they have done all year. It's past time for the change we voted for.

Posted by: FreeThinkingRedneck on February 10, 2010 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

Why is he warning them? Recess appointments and reconciliation. Just do it.

Because most people don't live on blogs, Marilyn. Because 75 percent of Americans don't know what a filibuster is and even more don't understand a hold. You may also have noticed that the media is Republican.

Obama and the caucus have to at least try to explain to the clueless public what the problem is before taking what the media will annoyingly describe as a radical power grab (without bothering to mention what caused it). The Democrats should have been hollering about this for months. They're finally doing it now.

Posted by: Allen on February 10, 2010 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Obama WILL be "respecting the will of the Senate" if he makes a recess appointment when the Senate voted 52 to 33 to confirm.....

It is way past time to go with 70 recess appointments, for the House to pass the Senate HCR bill, and for the Senate to use reconciliation to fix the glitches in their own version of that bill.

Posted by: withay on February 10, 2010 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

At some point Obama and Democrats must step up and clearly, unequivocally, and with extreme prejudice go on the offensive against Republicans.

If they choose not to, it is also just as clear that they are part of the problem, and really don't want to change anything at all.

Posted by: terraformer on February 10, 2010 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think I remember Hatch being so concerned about the will of Senate when Bush was making recess appointments on nominees that would have failed a straight up or down vote, like Sam Fox. Bush made 171 recess appointments before Reid shut him down by keeping the Senate in session with pro forma sessions during recesses. Without Reid's action Bush may have topped 200 before the end of his term. Why wasn't Hatch concerned about the will of the Senate back then?

Posted by: majun on February 10, 2010 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

"I sincerely hope the White House does not circumvent the will of the Senate by appointing him when the Senate is out of session," Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, said.

If you would change your attitude you wouldn't have to hope. When Obama makes the appointment, "you bethcha" we can ask how's that hopey thing workin forya.

Posted by: Dave on February 10, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

i'd like to think that this was part of a strategy to let the gop be the gop to the brink until the american people are fully clued in to the obstructive role they are playing. (polling supporting a bipartisan approach is not a good sign) but watching how profoundly they failed to take advantage of the shelby assholery, i'm clearly wrong to think the dems would ever have a long-term strategy.

when's the recess -- is next week when he could make appointments?

Posted by: bkny on February 10, 2010 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Simply make the appointment, explain the obstructionism and claim he is do the will of the people. Have Harry force a vote on everyone, recess appoint if necessary over Easter.

Posted by: PhilMc on February 10, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Actually the Senate did not reject the nomination. A minority of Senators blocked the senators blocked the Senate from from making having a vote to accept or reject the nomination.

Enough is enough. Obama should make it clear that all nominees who are not voted on in a timely manner will get recess appointments.

Posted by: david1234 on February 10, 2010 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

52 to 33; that's just over 71% supporting the nomination. Providing a recess appointment on that number does, indeed, indicate "respecting the will of the Senate."

Maybe we should revive an archaic tradition, and require that all Republicans in the Senate pass a series of intelligence tests as a precondition for voting rights within the chamber. That alone would offer Dems a better-than-two-thirds majority---and they could just vote the filibuster into extinction.

They could convict some old Bushylvanian enabler-cronies of impeachment while they're at it, too (Yes, mssrs. Alito and Scalia---I'm looking at both of you)....

Posted by: S. Waybright on February 10, 2010 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Obama needs to declare war on the Senate. There is no political downside to doing so. The public is completely sour on the institution and he can ride that sentiment. There may be support for individual senators locally but the old divide and conquer rule will hold. He will kill them. And it isn't like he is losing anything legislatively because they are so thoroughly fucked up that they couldn't tie their shoes if their lives depended on it. It is a no lose situation. Then, if he can build enough political pressure on the cretins he can force a rules change with the next session.

Posted by: SW on February 10, 2010 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

As for "respecting the will of the Senate", why not have "the will of the Senate" to be 51 votes period? Get rid of this arcane filibuster and cloture nonsense. As filibustering comes from the old concept of freebooting and piracy, it is apt that the current RepuGs are nothing more than Jolly Rogers type brigands, who have sailed up the Potomac, planted their black flag and taken our government hostage.

Of course, the only reason not to, will be when the so-called Democratic Senators will have wasted their voter given gift by doing little and will be reduced to a minority, once again. Then, they will need the arcane rules. Please, go Walter Mondale and company further than their last effort and rid our Senate of this atrocity.

Posted by: berttheclock on February 10, 2010 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

Dollars to donuts Obama does not give Becker a recess appointment. Obama may well make some appointments but none will be liberals. God, I hope I'm wrong.

Posted by: Th on February 10, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

I kinda admire Hatch. It takes balls to shovel such BS with a straight face. Especially when everyone knows its BS and you have a long record of making the mirror image argument just a couple of years ago. Naaaa, I don't really admire him; he's reprehensible pondscum.

Posted by: danimal on February 10, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Hatch and his fellow "senatorial" Republicans are repugnant! He and his twisted fellow travelers are in essence defecating on the floor of the Senate daily with such perverted perspective! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 10, 2010 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Notice I said declare war on the Senate? Not the Republican Senators? Here is your fucking bipartisanship. Bipartisanship I can believe in. You have to make it an institutional issue. The institution is broken. It is no longer serving the country, Make the broken institution the issue. "The do nothing Senate". Not "Senate Republicans".

Posted by: SW on February 10, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

A dozen cruel crullers for you...

Dollars to donuts Obama does not give Becker a recess appointment. Obama may well make some appointments but none will be liberals. God, I hope I'm wrong.

You are not wrong. He has to make recess appointments only because he has too. He is totally boxed in. He must act. He can't wiggle away. He would if he could but he can't...

That means we should expect the bare minimum out of him. What we have here is a chief executive that doesn't believe in executive power. Hang on to that thought. It is central to understanding the Obama presidency. More on it later...

Posted by: koreyel on February 10, 2010 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

From aboev, 75% of americans don't know what filibusters, holds,etc. Hell, 95% don't know. AND DON"T CARE. MOST people woudl figure the guy in charge appoints his people, and why the assistant secretary for ag affairs and toilet paper needs senatorial approval is beyond most people.

Appoint the damn people in recess, let the stupidhead republicans squeal, and simply say - I need my team. Now. We need asst. sec. of defense, homeland sec., etc. Now. I am not going to wait for Senator bumpfuss from stillborn nebraska to stop the functioning of the government. If they don't like it, they can go back to their state and explain the glorius "rules" of the senate.

Posted by: bigutah on February 10, 2010 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Prepared to be surprised Steve. I have absolutely no confidence in this White House. There is someone there right now considering Hatch's argument. (Didn't Rahm worry that trying Terrorists in NYC would anger Lindsey Graham?)

If Obama does decide to do recess appointments, they will be very few.

Posted by: Henk on February 10, 2010 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Who the hell knew we were working to elect such a god damn wimp?

Posted by: SW on February 10, 2010 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is either too self-absorbed or too cowardly or too foolish to do what needs to be done. He’s abandoned health care reform, flatly broken his campaign promises on civil liberties and the rule of law, and kowtowed to republicans even when it was utterly obvious there was no point to doing so.

I voted for him; I shall not do so again unless he runs against someone as bad as Palin. Democrats need to punish those who do not act as Democrats once they are elected as Democrats. What is the point of supermajorities that can accomplish nothing? What is the point of a president so timid he will advocate for nothing?

Posted by: Joseph Dougherty on February 11, 2010 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK



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