Power Grab: Obama Recess Appoints Consumer Finance Czar

Obama’s new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director is supposed to be confirmed by the Senate—not installed via recess appointment—

Yet here’s Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air sticking up for Obama:

National Journal reportsthat Obama will announce a recess appointment for Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — and escalate the division between the Senate and the White House, and Democrats and Republicans:

President Obama will announce today that he will appoint Richard Cordray as head of the controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during the Senate’s recess, the White House said.

The appointment comes to the dismay of Senate Republicans, who blocked Cordray’s nomination in order to weaken the bureau. …

Obama is scheduled to make his first public appearance of 2012 on Wednesday at 1:15 p.m. in the suburbs of Cleveland — Cordray’s home state.

Of all the controversial appointments that the Senate GOP has managed to bottle up, this one had the weakest argument.  The objections of Republicans to Cordray rested mainly on the CFPB itself, not Cordray.  They had already forced Obama to withdraw his first nominee, Elizabeth Warren, who proved inartful at Congressional relations anyway.  The CFPB itself was a battle Republicans lost over a year ago.  Congress passed it into law, and Obama should be able to get a nominee to run it confirmed.  Republicans can win the next election and make the changes they wish in the next session, but it’s unreasonable to simply block the agency from operating with its chosen leadership.

They’ve been holding up the appointment until changes to the agency’s structure are made to provide oversight and accountability. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to insist on accountability.

Captitol Confidential at Big Government calls this an unconstitutional power grab:

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution provides the president with the power to “fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate.” The problem for the president and his liberal allies is that the Senate has not recessed and technically remains in session. However, liberal groups are pressing the White House to invoke the “Roosevelt Option” to stack key government positions with radicals ready to carry out an anti-business, pro-big labor regulatory agenda. The Roosevelt Option is coined from the actions of Teddy Roosevelt who in 1903, in a split-second between two congressional sessions of Congress, made more than 100 recess appointments. In 2012, Congress will need to move from the First Session of this current Congress to the Second Session. Liberals claim the fraction of a second between the sessions is enough to trigger presidential power.

Others are more brazenly calling for the president to invoke presidential powers never before contemplated. Some have even suggested the president declare the Congress in recess, like a tinhorn dictator from a Third World country.

But even invoking the so-called “Roosevelt Option” may not solve the liberals’ conundrum. Sources tell Capitol Confidential that the statute creating the CFPB demands that the director be confirmed by the Senate—not installed via recess appointment—to trigger the agency’s shift from Treasury to the Fed and empower the Director.

But none of the legal or constitutional arguments may matter much. Liberals and the Obama administration appear poised to forge ahead with an outrageous and unconstitutional power grab. And by the time the courts work it out, so much damage will already be done.

Even *RINO, Orrin Hatch is outraged:

“This is a very grave decision by this heavy-handed, autocratic White House. Circumventing the Senate and tossing out decades of precedent to appoint an unaccountable czar to appease its liberal base is beneath the office of the president,” Hatch said in a statement. “The legislative branch exists as a check and a balance on the executive. By opening this door, the White House is saying it can appoint any person at any time to any position it chooses without the advice and consent of the Senate. This is not how our republic was designed to function.”

Michelle Malkin links to Cordray’s new, unregulated, regulatory powers:

Refresh your memories on Cordray and the expansive new regulatory powers he will now wield here.

Flashback — Obama 2005: Recess appointees are “damaged goods;” Obama 2010: Recess appointments are “critical” need

As The AP reported on New Years Eve: In 2012, Obama to press ahead without Congress:

The White House believes GOP lawmakers boxed themselves in during the pre-Christmas debate on the tax break and will be hard-pressed to back off their own assertions that it should continue through the end of 2012.

Once that debate is over, the White House says, Obama’s political fate will no longer be tied to Washington.

“Now that he’s sort of free from having to put out these fires, the president will have a larger playing field. If that includes Congress, all the better,” said Josh Earnest,White House deputy press secretary. But, he added, “that’s no longer a requirement.”

Aides say the president will not turn his back on Congress completely in the new year. He is expected to once again push lawmakers to pass elements of his jobs bill that were blocked by Republicans last fall.

If those efforts fail, the White House says, Obama’s re-election year will focus almost exclusively on executive action.

Earnest said Obama will come out with at least two or three directives per week, continuing the “We Can’t Wait” campaign the administration began this fall, and try to define Republicans in Congress as gridlocked and dysfunctional.

And Keith Koffler noted just the other day: Obama has officially abandoned governing:

In a startling interview with the New York Times, White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest all but acknowledged that Obama was finished with the presidency until he wins it again.

“In terms of the president’s relationship with Congress in 2012,” Mr. Earnest said at a briefing, “the president is no longer tied to Washington, DC”

The president is no longer tied to Washington DC? Are Congress and Obama going to take their act on the road and make laws in Cincinnati? We’re finished legislating for the year?

“There are certainly other things the president would like to do,” Mr. Earnest said, citing other provisions of the jobs bill. “But in terms of essential, must-do items, the payroll tax cut extension is the last one.”

So, the economy is stalled, millions are out of work, and there are no more “must do” items, other than the president’s reelection?

I have to give the White House credit for putting its card on the table. This is certainly a record-setting level of Chutzpah they are displaying. I called the Guinness Book of World Record, in fact, and they agreed to publish it immediately.

I don’t think now is a good time for Republicans to play dead. I want to see them fighting back.


Speaker Boehner weighs in on the appointment at his website:

It turns out that the action not only contradicts long-standing practice, but also the view of the administration itself. In 2010, Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal explained to the Supreme Courtthe Obama administration’s view that recess appointments are only permissible when Congress is in recess for more than three days. Here’s the exchange with Chief Justice John Roberts:

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: And the recess appointment power doesn’t work why?

MR. KATYAL: The — the recess appointment power can work in — in a recess. I think our office has opined the recess has to be longer than 3 days. And — and so, it is potentially available to avert the future crisis that — that could — that could take place with respect to the board. If there are no other questions –

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Thank you, counsel.

Speaker Boehner called the appointment an “extraordinary and entirely unprecedented power grab,” and noted that the position “had not been filled for one reason: the agency it heads is bad for jobs and bad for the economy.” Read his full statement here, and read the statement from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) here.

You might want to read the comments at Boehner’s site. People are begging Boehner to “do something” about it – several  suggest he should begin impeachment proceedings.

See also:

Weasel Zippers: Obama Defends Cordray Appointment: I Have An “Obligation” To Act Like A Dictator…

The Foundry: A Tyrannical Abuse of Power: Obama Attempts to Appoint Cordray to CFPB:

In a revelation that is quite shocking to anyone who knows anything about the 100-plus years of precedent on the recess appointment power or the separation of powers, the White House today announced that the President planned on making a purported recess appointment of Richard Cordray to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This is a position the Senate has refused to confirm Cordray for, and it is also of note that the White House announced this momentous decision in an official tweet from communications director Dan Pfeiffer.

Heritage’s Diane Katz has explained why that position should remain unfilled until the agency’s powers are modified, but the alleged recess appointment is outrageous no matter what position it would supposedly fill. What is shocking is that the Senate is not in a recess that would allow a recess appointment, and it can’t be under the Constitution, even if many Senators are not in D.C.

Keep reading.

Prof. Jacobson:

Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau correctly is portrayed as a naked power grab.

First, the Senate is not in recess.  Harry Reid and other Democrats in the past treated the current Senate pro forma business status as not being in recess.

Second, the Dodd-Frank legislation which created the position Cordray will fill specifically requires Senate confirmation.  A recess appointment is not confirmation under any scenario.

According to Greg Sargent, Obama has more recess appointments lined up for the NLRB.

So are the appointments really the issue?  In part, yes, but they are just the excuse.  Obama’s campaign theme is to run against Congress.  What better way to run against Congress than to create a confrontation with Congress?

Hot Air: Doubling down: Obama follows Cordray recess appointment with three more to NLRB

MRCTV: Richard Cordray: Any Legislation Which Has Even “Incidental Effects on the Economy” is a “Valid Exercise of Congressional Authority”

Breitbart TV: Obama Creates 1-800 Hotline To Advise Whether Mortgages Give ‘Fair Deal’:

During President Obama’s speech announcing his recess appointment of Richard Cordray to the position of Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), he announced that Cordray’s agency would be setting up a ‘1-800’ hotline that one could call to ensure they were getting a ‘fair deal’ on a mortgage.

Linked by Michelle Malkin in Buzzworthy, thanks.

*Orrin Hatch’e RINO status in dispute in the comments. I was probably a bit hasty in labling him a RINO. He has been mostly conservative – but when he strays off the reservation….hoo boy.

8 thoughts on “Power Grab: Obama Recess Appoints Consumer Finance Czar

  1. The Republicans had better be a little careful. Seems to me they raised the ire of the Democraps when the last Repub prez installed “The ‘Stache” as ambassador to the U.N. during a recess after the Senate failed to confirm him.

    If the Repubs do anything at all, it should be to clarify recess appointments and take back some of the constitutional powers usurped by this and many former presidents.


  2. President Bush, and President Obama, both have the right and authority to make recess appointments. Bolton was a recess appointment. That’s within the law.

    This is not. The Senate is not in recess. It doesn’t matter if that rubs you the wrong way or you don’t like it- the law is what matters in our nation, and the law says that the President can only make recess appointments, not ‘if the President determines that the Senate is effect in a recess he can make appointments’.


  3. I am sorry but calling Orin Hatch a Rhino is a bit of a stretch unless we now call any republican that is not a full on conservative a Rhino. There is a big difference between Hatch and ANY democrat. He is not a republican who chides his party like McCain or Graham for not reaching across the isle. He does not accuse republicans of being too radically conservative or attack the Limbaugh’s or Hanity’s for their strong view points.
    Hatch has moderated his views over the years (he was once a strong conservative) and is guilty of trying too hard to reach consensus on a few bills BUT from budgets, military, and judicial appointments he has been many many times better than even the most conservative democrat. Though no longer a strong conservative he is still very much Republican in values. If this is what we are now labeling a democrat posing as a republican then the party is not big enough to affect the way our government moves (or decreases) in any way. Why even try, we have so little power. We have become the nattering nabobs of negativism. We can only hope at best to nip at the heels of statists. To actually push or more aptly restrain the behemoth Federal Government is beyond hope for any success because our pure republicans are so very very small in number.


  4. Since when has “the law” (or, for that matter, the Constitution) made any difference to Mr. Obhammud? What he doesn’t like he ignores or, in the case of the Second Amendment, illegally tries to undermine the peoples’ belief in it by flooding a foreign nation’s criminal elements with enough firepower to start a war (another illegal act and an act of aggression against a foreign nation).

    It would be interesting to have tapes of his lectures while he was supposedly “teaching” at U of Chicago. Unfortunately, not only can no one find any of those tapes, they can’t find any lists of required reading, suggested reading, or even a list of students who took his course.

    Kinda like trying to find who he dated in high school or college – ya just can’t find anyone who owns up to that. Or roommates. Or even classmates!

    As picky as the LSM is about all the Repubs’ pasts, it’s amazing how little past Duh-1 has, except for what he tells us.


  5. Hatch has a 47% conservative rating from Club for Growth. He’s been kinda of disappointing over the years – especially with judicial appointments. But he’s a nice guy.


  6. Whoa nicedeb! I admire you too much to let that slide. Orin Hatch’s score last year was 97%, behind only Cornyn, DeMint, and Coburn. Lifetime he was 74%, just 2% less than Santorum. It is his reaches across the isle on certain issues that garners him the classification of moderate and a few doozies several years ago when he strayed. My point is the highest democrat was 50% – Ben Nelson and after him 37% for Blanche Lincoln. He hardly can be classified as a democrat dressed up like a republican. It is just a personal pet peeve of mine that we toss around the Rino label too easily as the democrats do with racist. Keep the label’s meaning strong for republicans who actually do vote in the democrat camp often, say like 50% of the time like Collins and Snowe.

    Not trying to disagree with the premise of the post only the term Rino.
    One of my favorite blogs


  7. RINO-ish? Sorry, he may get kind of a bad wrap. He did vote to confirm Holder, (with 18 other Repubs).
    But he’s no Scott Brown, that’s for sure.

    Freedomworks was working hard to primary him, last year. Tab Hale wrote:

    Orrin Hatch is the antithesis of the Tea Party spirit. He is a mascot for big-spending Beltway entrenched incumbency who has consistently joined hands with destructive Democrats.

    He slobbered over corruptocrat Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd.

    He co-sponsored the $6 billion national service boondoggle and dedicated it to his good friend Teddy Kennedy, with whom he also joined hands to create the ever-expanding SCHIP entitlement.

    He supported tax cheat Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner from day one, lavished praise on Joe Biden’s balls, and embraced and defended Attorney General Eric Holder’s nomination because, he said, “I like Barack Obama and I want to help him if I can.”

    He was an original sponsor of the open-borders DREAM Act illegal alien student bailout and voted for the massive TARP bailout.

    How do real Tea Party people feel about Tea Party pretender Orrin Hatch?

    The same way they feel about his former big-spending entrenched incumbent in Utah — former Sen. Bob Bennett — who got the boot in May.

    In the words of Stephen Kruiser, Orrin Hatch was John McCain before John McCain was John McCain. He is not what this movement is fighting for, and Utah is so much more fiscally conservative than this.

    But I’ve got no personal beef against Hatch – I’ve always kind of liked him – even though he can be exasperating. I updated my post to indicate that the RINO label was in dispute.

    *Thanks for reading the blog – hope I don’t tick you off too often.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s