9:59am July 8, 2010

Expecting Blocks From GOP, Obama Uses Recess Appointment for Health Care Director


President Barack Obama has once again used what amounts to a political trump card to fill what the he called critical administration posts.

Obama has made three more recess appointments and using them means the president can bypass “the Senate’s usual advise and consent role for appointees” by acting while Congress is in recess, the Christian Science Monitor explained.

Because the appointments skip the Senate, they are temporary and will expire at the end of the Senate’s next session.

Obama appointed Dr. Don Berwick as a nominee for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator; Philip Coyle as National Security and International Affairs Associate director and Joshua Gotbaum for Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. director.

“It’s unfortunate that at a time when our nation is facing enormous challenges, many in Congress have decided to delay critical nominations for political purposes,” President Obama said in a statement. “These recess appointments will allow three extremely qualified candidates to get to work on behalf of the American people right away. With more than 180 nominees still pending before the Senate, it’s my hope that my colleagues in Congress will agree to put politics aside and move forward on these vitally important positions.”

The Boston Globe reported that even key Democrats were divided over Berwick’s appointment to led the agency that oversees Medicare and Medicaid.

Democrat Max Baucus of Montana said he was “troubled” by the appointment, adding, “Senate confirmation of presidential appointees is an essential process prescribed by the Constitution that serves as a check on executive power and protects Montanans and all Americans by ensuring that crucial questions are asked of the nominee — and answered.”

Meanwhile, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts applauded Obama’s move.

“The President did the right think making this a recess appointment,” Kerry told the Globe. “He wasn’t going to let the Republicans thrive in a chaos of their own making. Instead, he put seniors, kids and the disabled ahead of Republican gamesmanship and he put a terrific public servant in place.”

And Republicans were just plain incensed. Senate Republicans were reportedly prepared to use Berwick’s confirmation hearings to remind the public of their objections to Obama’s health reform package.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said Berwick’s appointment was a way for the Democrats to “sneak him through without public scrutiny.”

Obama isn’t the only recent president to make recess appointments. George W. Bush made 171 during his eight-year presidency and Bill Clinton had 139, the Monitor said. Obama has so far made 18.

About the Author

Bridgette Outten
A Chicago native, Bridgette has been a journalist since she first wrote for her seventh grade newsletter. Today, that passion is just as strong. She has written for several newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Defender, the Marshall News-Messenger (Texas) and the Springfield News-Sun (Ohio).



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