Yesterday, ret. Maj. Gen. Robert Harding said that he was withdrawing from consideration to become head of the Transportation Security Agency (TSA). The New York Times reports that Harding’s bid “unraveled after reports that his firm collected more federal money than it was entitled to for providing interrogators in Iraq.” “The president is disappointed in this outcome but remains confident in the solid team of professionals at TSA,” said a White House spokesman. Harding was Obama’s second nominee to lead TSA. The first choice, Erroll Southers, withdrew after being blocked by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who wanted to “prevent TSA workers from joining a labor union.” The White House has not yet announced a third choice, meaning that “the job is likely to remain unfilled for months to come.”
Today, the White House announced that, after facing months of GOP obstruction, the President intends to “recess appoint fifteen nominees to fill critical administration posts that have been left vacant.” Obama’s statement:
The United States Senate has the responsibility to approve or disapprove of my nominees. But if, in the interest of scoring political points, Republicans in the Senate refuse to exercise that responsibility, I must act in the interest of the American people and exercise my authority to fill these positions on an interim basis. Most of the men and women whose appointments I am announcing today were approved by Senate committees months ago, yet still await a vote of the Senate. At a time of economic emergency, two top appointees to the Department of Treasury have been held up for nearly six months. I simply cannot allow partisan politics to stand in the way of the basic functioning of government.