The political gamesmanship between the White House and the Senate over appointments of senior federal officials has gotten out of hand. It’s creating unnecessary trauma and drama within the U.S. government.
It’s a major reason that federal judge positions have gone for years without being filled and it creates problems within federal agencies.
The problem, simply put, is that senators (usually of the opposite political party of the president) seek to block the president’s nomination of senior federal officials, including judges, because they object to the nominees’ political views.
As a result, presidents have been embroiled in contentious confirmation hearings that tie up the nomination process for a long, long time. This has been going on to excess for many years.
Presidents go around the Senate by making recess appointments. The president makes his picks to these offices when the Senate is in recess, which allows the nominee to serve without confirmation until the session of Congress ends.
It has got to stop. Whether it is done by Democrats or Republicans, it is an affront to the intent of Senate confirmation.
A recent ruling by a federal appeals court could force a change in the way the White House and Senate approach the confirmation process.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled President Obama’s selection of three members of the National Labor Relations Board was unconstitutional because the manner in which he made the picks usurped the Senate’s power to confirm nominations.
The ruling could be welcome if senators snap out of their partisan hazes and participate in the confirmation process the way the Founding Fathers intended.
The Constitution says the president makes the appointments with “the advice and consent of the Senate.” Historically, this has meant the Senate was to ensure the nominee met the minimum requirements for the position.
It was never intended to be used to gain political advantage.
The ruling will certainly be appealed by the Obama administration, and will likely reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
The high court needs to bring historical and constitutional perspective in a way that makes it clear to the White House and the Senate this nonsense will not be tolerated any more.
The executive branch and legislative branch have defined roles. It’s time they stay within those bounds and do the jobs they were elected to do.