Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Stare - Down With President Obama... And The GOP Blinks.

President Obama held a bipartisan meeting at the White House with congressional leaders on Tuesday, and it apparently was a humdinger.

The major topic of discussion was the unprecedented number of Obama appointments that until today, had been held hostage by the GOP through the use of arcane Senate rules. 

One major offender who made the news lately is Sen. Richard Shelby, R-AL, who is in some sort of pissing match with the Pentagon over a refueling tanker contract that could benefit his state.  Blackmailing for Pork™ is standard practice for the GOP (who at the same time decry "big government spending").

Anyway - at that meeting, Mr. Obama warned that he would borrow a page from G.W. Bush's book, and make recess appointments (in his first six years in office, Bush made 167 recess appointments) if the GOP didn't stop this crap... and they'd better start NOW by confirming some appointees before the Senate left for the Presidents’ Day break.  He directed this threat at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

From an article at Politico:
“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.”
Apparently, Mitch believed him, because in an effort to prove they're so "bipartisany" and not "obstructionist," today the Senate, by unanimous consent, approved 27 nominees.

While he was obviously pleased with the Senate's action, in a prepared statement today, President Obama noted:
“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.”