The correct way to stop problems caused by a perversion of Constitutional intent is not to lay on top of one absurd system another boundary-pushing interpretation of Constitutional power. The correct solution is to fix the root source of what is causing the problems to begin with. Unfortunately, though, that is not how President Obama is going to deal with Senate Republicans’ latest obstructionism to support existing law.
Obama has relied on a new and controversial interpretation of his Constitutional power to make four recess appoints even thought the Senate is technically in pro forma sessions. Obama did this because the Senate Minority used the Senate rules to prevent these individuals from getting a confirmation vote. The Senate Republicans prevented a vote not because they have a problem with the nominee’s qualifications, but as a way to effectively stop the enforcement of laws they don’t have the power to repeal. From Obama’s speech Yesterday:
They refused to even give Richard [Cordray] an up or down vote. Now, this is not because Richard is not qualified. There’s no question that Richard is the right person for the job. He’s got the support of Democrats and Republicans around the country. A majority of attorneys general — Richard is a former attorney general — a majority of attorneys general from both parties across the country have called for Richard to be confirmed. Your local members of Congress who are here today — they support him. He has the support of a majority in the Senate. Everyone agrees Richard is more than qualified.
So what’s the problem, you might ask. The only reason Republicans in the Senate have blocked Richard is because they don’t agree with the law that set up a consumer watchdog in the first place. They want to weaken the law. They want to water it down. And by the way, a lot of folks in the financial industry have poured millions of dollars to try to water it down.
While it might make sense for the president to use this kind of extreme hardball tactic if it is literally the only way for him to execute his duty to effectively run the government and enforce the laws of this nation, I’m disappointed by this move because Obama and the Senate Democrats have a much better way and clearly constitutional way to deal with this.
Democrats have the majority in the Senate. Instead of the President setting new precedent to deal with GOP obstructionism, the Senate Democrats could have just changed Senate rules back to what they were originally. Back when the rules didn’t allow for filibusters as endless delay tactics to stop the majority from fulfilling their duty. That would make this particular absurd minority obstructionism tactic impossible and allow the Senate to do its duty of “advising and consenting” on executive nominees. No need for Obama to push the boundary of executive authority.
Senate Democrats didn’t change the senate rules nor did Obama call for them to. It is unfair for Obama to say Republicans blocked the vote, when in reality the problem is the Democratic majority chose to let the GOP block the vote on the nominees.
Sadly, this is part of a bigger pattern in a downward spiral of stupidity in our government. Instead of fixing the root causes of problems like the filibuster, we just badly patch things up with layer after layer of even stupider rules and precedents, like reconciliation and new forms of executive overreach.