Recess appointments Berwick, Becker renominated in new session

posted at 10:12 am on January 27, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama spent Tuesday night telling the American people that he understood the midterm message as the electorate demanding that Democrats and Republicans need to work together in the final two years of his term as President.  He spent the rest of the week talking out the other side of his mouth.  The White House announced its slate of appointments for open positions that require Senate confirmation, including two controversial recess appointments, one of which produced bipartisan anger when it was made.  Donald Berwick, who got a recess appointment to run Medicare before the Senate could even hold a confirmation hearing, will be headed for the Senate once again:

On Wednesday night, the White House renominated Dr. Don Berwick to head the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The nomination is likely to be yet another flashpoint in the contentious health-care repeal debate on Capitol Hill. Republicans strongly objected to Berwick’s appointment last year, pointing to his previous comments in support of the British health system and rationing with “eyes open” or closed. …

Berwick is likely to face a difficult nomination. Many Republicans are still angry about his recess appointment and have significant questions about the agency he oversees.

The administration recess-appointed Berwick to the post in July, arguing that Republicans had signaled they would slow-walk or oppose his nomination proceedings. Republicans were likely to oppose the confirmation but welcomed a chance to grill him in a confirmation hearing. The White House made the recess appointment before a hearing was held.

Even some Democrats at the time objected to the recess appointment.  Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) would have voted to confirm Berwick but slammed the White House for bypassing the Senate entirely.  Berwick hadn’t even filled out the standard questionnaire that forms part of the basis for confirmation hearings, which is why Baucus had yet to schedule a hearing for Berwick.  “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,’’ Baucus said at the time.

Berwick isn’t the only controversial recess appointment that Obama revived, either.  Craig Becker, whose nomination to the National Labor Relations Board got stopped when his confirmation got filibustered almost a year ago and couldn’t even get more than 52 Democrats to support, is also back on the list.  The Workforce Fairness Institute, which is dedicated to fighting Card Check, blasts Obama for his SOTU hypocrisy:

“Less than 24 hours after delivering the State of the Union, which largely focused on jobs and the economy, President Barack Obama already broke his word to workers and small businesses by re-nominating labor radical Craig Becker, a former attorney for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  In his address to the nation, the President stated his administration will ‘fix’ any ‘unnecessary burden[s] on businesses,’ yet one of his first acts following those words is to nominate an individual who is committed to job-killing policies,” said Katie Gage, executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI).  “In re-nominating Becker, President Obama has sent the message to employers across the country that his rhetoric is just that, and the nation’s chief executive is more concerned with paying back union bosses than turning the economy around.  We will work with small business owners to ensure the Senate once again rejects the Becker nomination in a bipartisan manner.”

There are a few other recess appointments on the list as well:

  • William Boarman, for the apparently so-critical-it-required-a-recess-appointment position of “Public Printer”, recess appointment Dec. 22
  • Matthew Bryza for ambassador to Azerbaijan, recess appointment Dec 22
  • Norman Eisen, ambassador to the Czech Republic, recess appointment Dec. 22
  • Robert Stephenson Ford, ambassador to Syria, recess appointment Dec. 22
  • Francis Ricciardone, ambassador to Turkey, recess appointment Dec 22

Eisen, readers may recall, played a pivotal role in the firing of Inspector General Gerald Walpin as well as smearing him later.  Ford’s appointment got stalled because of his lack of ability to articulate a policy towards Syria, at least to the Senate.  One name not on the list is James Cole, who got a recess appointment at the same time to be Eric Holder’s deputy AG.  The Boss Emeritus reminded us at the time why Cole’s nomination was doomed, thanks to his downplaying of the 9/11 attacks as essentially the same kind of crime as the drug trade and the Mafia.

The Republican caucus in the Senate should force the withdrawal of the nominations of Berwick, Becker, Eisen, and Ford, but especially Berwick and Eisen.  The arrogant recess appointment of Berwick before the Senate could even ask a single question of him should be a moment for instructing the President that he is not a monarch and that Congress has significant jurisdiction in how agencies conduct their business.  They should also take the opportunity with Eisen’s renomination to interrogate him under oath about the Walpin termination — who ordered it, what the real circumstances were, and Eisen’s role in smearing Walpin.


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Comments

Watch the GOP roll over.

andy85719 on January 27, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Only fools believed Obama a few nights ago, or prior to that. Anyone who thought he was going to make positive changes in his thinking or policies, was again, gullible enough to be fooled by the snake oil salesman.

capejasmine on January 27, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Fight them all!

Cindy Munford on January 27, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Pleased to see Gerald Walpin mentioned. Two years of injustice has now gone by for his firing/smearing.

GnuBreed on January 27, 2011 at 10:23 AM

This is outrageous! This guy is bent on redistributing income. The Liar in Chief strikes again. He LIES with such ease I am stunned by it. One big f*@#ing mistake America. An experiment gone horribly wrong!

rjoco1 on January 27, 2011 at 10:25 AM

Did ja ever find yourself wondering if Obama has some grand plan that is so clever and so astute that maybe all of our ordinary minds are missing it? Or is he really very politically dumb and no one is willing to face it? Isn’t it logical to believe that one of these reasons HAS to be at the root of all his incomprehensible behavior? Why else would someone keep repeating the same goofy actions and thinking it goes unnoticed.

jeanie on January 27, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Don’t get all squishy there gop….stand firm. No more Mr nice guy

Ya hear

cmsinaz on January 27, 2011 at 10:31 AM

To be fair, Dear Liar only renominated Berwick because Gosnell is in jail.

rbj on January 27, 2011 at 10:31 AM

An experiment gone horribly wrong!

rjoco1 on January 27, 2011 at 10:25 AM

An acrid, sticky blob coagulating in the bottom of a test tube. Dispose of as toxic waste and try again, but this time read the instructions (Constitution).

SKYFOX on January 27, 2011 at 10:36 AM

To be fair, Dear Liar only renominated Berwick because Gosnell is in jail.

rbj on January 27, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Am I missing something? I thought Gosnell was up for Surgeon General.

SKYFOX on January 27, 2011 at 10:38 AM

Defund their salaries as part of the Obamcare repeal!!

katy on January 27, 2011 at 10:41 AM

rbj on January 27, 2011 at 10:31 AM

+100000

katy on January 27, 2011 at 10:41 AM

it’s a ridiculous spin to suggest that berwick himself ever faced bipartisan opposition. superblogger then quotes baucus about his issues with recess nominations, as though it has any bearing on his renomination.

and this

The arrogant recess appointment of Berwick before the Senate could even ask a single question of him should be a moment for instructing the President that he is not a monarch

is just unhinged bs, sorry. the president exercises his constitutional authority in making recess appointments.

sesquipedalian on January 27, 2011 at 10:44 AM

People like Noonan, Krauthammer, et al seem to love Obama for his words….to bad they don’t pay attention to his actions.

search4truth on January 27, 2011 at 10:46 AM

Stand or curl up in the corner, GOP…

Gohawgs on January 27, 2011 at 10:46 AM

I’m also slightly interested in the nomination of Heather Higginbottom to be the Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Here’s what Obama said during his nom:

“She understands the relationship between numbers on a ledger and the lives of real people. As we make cuts that are necessary to rein in the deficit, I want to make sure I’ve got Heather there so that we’re meeting our fundamental obligations to our people and to our economy as well.”

She was the legislative director for John Kerry, worked on Kerry’s campaign, worked for Obama for America, and currently works in the Obama Domestic Policy Council.

And she was nominated for the OMB. Yes, the “non-partisan” budget group. She is about as partisan as they come, I’m afraid.

Maybe it’s just me. It’s probably just me.

Abby Adams on January 27, 2011 at 10:54 AM

He can’t be this dumb can he?

jeanie on January 27, 2011 at 10:59 AM

And she was nominated for the OMB. Yes, the “non-partisan” budget group. She is about as partisan as they come, I’m afraid.

Maybe it’s just me. It’s probably just me.

Abby Adams on January 27, 2011 at 10:54 AM

Maaaah. I effed it up. I had CBO in my head, but this is the OMB. Call me a dunce!

Abby Adams on January 27, 2011 at 11:06 AM

the president exercises his constitutional authority in making recess appointments.

sesquipedalian on January 27, 2011 at 10:44 AM

And the Senate should exercise their constitutional authority by flushing them with the rest of Obama’s excremental offerings.

SKYFOX on January 27, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Jeanie: YES HE CAN!

Sorry, couldn’t resist… ;)

Scott H on January 27, 2011 at 11:08 AM

Seems to me that whether a Senator be a Republican or a Democrat… the Senate, as a whole, needs to slap Obama’s hand back. This is an abuse of power, but not a simple matter of partisanship. This is about whether the Legislative Branch will tolerate repeated end-arounds by the Executive Branch. And the obvious answer to that should be ‘no’.

Murf76 on January 27, 2011 at 11:12 AM

Barack Obama spent Tuesday night telling the American people that he understood the midterm message as the electorate demanding that Democrats and Republicans need to work together in the final two years of his term as President.

Ed,

Please enlighten me as to where this was the mandate from the November election. I was under the distinct impression that the American people make an unequivocal “STOP THE DAMN SPENDING!” mandate.

Did I get it wrong?

belad on January 27, 2011 at 11:15 AM

And the Senate should exercise their constitutional authority by flushing them with the rest of Obama’s excremental offerings.

SKYFOX on January 27, 2011 at 11:06 AM

nah.

sesquipedalian on January 27, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Hey, didn’t the talking heads say “Barry was moving to the center”?

GarandFan on January 27, 2011 at 11:16 AM

How about a “any agency with a recess appointment gets eliminated in the next budget round” law? And, yes, ambassador to Syria and the NLRB count — we could certainly live without them.

cthulhu on January 27, 2011 at 11:19 AM

He can’t be this dumb can he?

jeanie on January 27, 2011 at 10:59 AM

The Bamster is a socialist, therefore he is dumb. They go together.

slickwillie2001 on January 27, 2011 at 11:44 AM

You’re so harsh. Our president is very bipartisan. He’s willing to nominate people that both parties despise.

tom on January 27, 2011 at 11:46 AM

it’s a ridiculous spin to suggest that berwick himself ever faced bipartisan opposition. superblogger then quotes baucus about his issues with recess nominations, as though it has any bearing on his renomination.

Obama established the standard for measuring bipartisanship when passing the stimulus act. If even one person of the other party signs on, it’s bipartisan.

By his own standard, opposition to Berwick is about 5 times more bipartisan that Obamacare.

and this

The arrogant recess appointment of Berwick before the Senate could even ask a single question of him should be a moment for instructing the President that he is not a monarch

is just unhinged bs, sorry. the president exercises his constitutional authority in making recess appointments.

sesquipedalian on January 27, 2011 at 10:44 AM

Unhinged? The point is that he didn’t do a recess appointment of Berwick after he couldn’t get through the Senate, but just did the recess appointment preemptively. Thereby establishing that he didn’t care what the Senate had to say.

tom on January 27, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Obama established the standard for measuring bipartisanship when passing the stimulus act. If even one person of the other party signs on, it’s bipartisan.

…and?

Unhinged? The point is that he didn’t do a recess appointment of Berwick after he couldn’t get through the Senate, but just did the recess appointment preemptively

and? it’s still within his constitutional authority.

Thereby establishing that he didn’t care what the Senate had to say.

where were you when w. made 170+ recess appointments you hypocritical cretin?

sesquipedalian on January 27, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Dick Lugar will be under the nominating table servicing Berwick while the rest of the Stupid Party is earnestly debating gay marriage.

Priorities.

rickyricardo on January 27, 2011 at 12:47 PM

where were you when w. made 170+ recess appointments you hypocritical cretin?

sesquipedalian on January 27, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Where were you? Were you all for it at that time? Or, as is more likely the case, have you switched positions?

I don’t care about the recess appointments, that over. I just hope the Senate flushes these crazy liberal nominees who are both ignorent and incompetent socialists.

Monkeytoe on January 27, 2011 at 12:48 PM

Obama is a communist in not so sheepish clothing.

Schadenfreude on January 27, 2011 at 1:45 PM

where were you when w. made 170+ recess appointments you hypocritical cretin?

sesquipedalian on January 27, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Logic is indignant.

“Ask not what your country can do…” …one of the most illogical statements, ever.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Also, the topic of this thread is about Obama’s communist appointments. Stick to it.

Schadenfreude on January 27, 2011 at 1:46 PM

where were you when w. made 170+ recess appointments you hypocritical cretin?

Which of Bush’s appointments were made before Congress was even allowed to question the candidate? I think that was an innovation of Obama’s, which is why Dems are mad at him as well.

YehuditTX on January 27, 2011 at 4:26 PM

Seems to me that whether a Senator be a Republican or a Democrat… the Senate, as a whole, needs to slap Obama’s hand back. This is an abuse of power, but not a simple matter of partisanship. This is about whether the Legislative Branch will tolerate repeated end-arounds by the Executive Branch. And the obvious answer to that should be ‘no’.

Exactly. And that’s a bipartisan sentiment.

YehuditTX on January 27, 2011 at 4:28 PM