In an alarming overstep of executive power, President Obama bypassed the constitutional nomination process and appointed a head to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency created by the Dodd-Frank law, and three new members to the National Labor Relations Board.
This decision is an unprecedented power grab that ignores the checks and balances written into our Constitution. This reflects a growing resolve within the Obama Administration to engage in “my way or the highway” gamesmanship with Congress.
According to Article II of the Constitution, the president only has the power to make recess appointments when the Senate is not in session. If the Senate had been in recess when this occurred, then President Obama would have been within his executive branch powers to appoint individuals to these positions without waiting for the Senate to act.
But the Senate was not in recess. President Obama’s misguided decision to completely upend the checks and balances of the appointment process communicates a willingness to ignore Congress when the legislative branch thwarts his agenda, rather than work as co-equal branches of government.
President Obama and his administration tossed aside years of legal precedent and ignored the Senate’s constitutionally-granted “advise and consent” powers over presidential appointees. The Senate’s role is crucial in the nomination process as it holds the president accountable for nominees and provides the public with important information about key decision-makers in the Administration.
This is not the first time Congress prohibited recess appointments. At the end of President Bush’s presidency, the Democratic leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, kept the Senate in session, even when senators were not physically in Washington, as a strategy to block presidential recess appointments with which he disagreed.
These recent appointments are not the only example of executive overreach under the Obama Administration. The president has also expanded executive branch powers to his liking by using administrative rules to change policies when he has failed to pass his agenda through the legislative process.
For example, an Obama-proposed change to immigration policy would allow large numbers of illegal immigrants — not just a few isolated cases — to stay in the United States while the federal government decides on their case.
Under current law, illegal immigrants who are the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens must leave the country before they can ask the federal government to waive the bar on legally coming back to the United States. If the Obama Administration doesn’t like the law, then they should request a new law be passed by Congress.
For those keeping score, this is the second time President Obama has ignored Congress to enact significant changes to immigration policy. Last year, his administration announced it would review 300,000 cases and waive the deportation of some individuals who have clean or minor criminal records beyond their illegal immigration status.
These aggressive policies are backdoor attempts at rewriting legislation to push America closer to amnesty, a policy that democratically elected officials in Congress have rejected time and again.
I vehemently oppose the president’s disregard for our Constitution. Our framers designed the Constitution to protect American liberty by prohibiting any one person or party from achieving tyrannical rule. We should aim to preserve and protect those limits in the Constitution, not pick and choose their application.