Obama and McConnell Battle Over Nominees: 27 Get Confirmed
February 12, 2010
(ChattahBox)—-The battle over Republican holds on President Obama’s nominees reached something of a breakthrough on Thursday, after a contentious meeting between Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Finally, 27 nominees were approved through the Senate after Obama threatened to resort to recess appointments. That’s a start, but dozens more remain to be confirmed.
According to Politico’s account of the meeting, Obama and MConnell had a “showdown” and both sides are claiming the other side blinked first:
“Mitch, this is unprecedented,” the president said, gesturing forcefully on the Cabinet Room table, according to aides. “If you don’t move any, I’m going to do some [recess] appointments.”
With unprecedented obstructionism by Republicans, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took to the Senate floor this past week threatening recess appointments during the February recess.
After the clearing of 27 nominees to staff federal agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs and the departments of the Treasury and Commerce, many key positions remain unfilled.
Obama released a statement Thursday night after the appointments were made, still reserving his right to make recess appointments:
“At the beginning of the week, a staggering 63 nominees had been stalled in the Senate because one or more senators placed a hold on their nomination. … And so on Tuesday, I told Senator McConnell that if Republican senators did not release these holds, I would exercise my authority to fill critically-needed positions in the federal government temporarily through the use of recess appointments. … Since that meeting, I am gratified that Republican senators have responded by releasing many of these holds and allowing 29 nominees to receive a vote in the Senate. While this is a good first step, there are still dozens of nominees on hold who deserve a similar vote, and I will be looking for action from the Senate when it returns from recess. If they do not act, I reserve the right to use my recess appointment authority in the future.”
Game on. But as pointed out by Daily Kos, “This means Dawn Johnsen and Craig Becker still wait.”