Answering the Shelby Shakedown


I’ve had a few opportunities to mention the “Shelby Shakedown” in which Alabama’s less-evil Senator has decided to block confirmation of all seventy pending executive branch nominees—in effect holding the entire federal government hostage—over a few juicy slabs of pork. But what can actually be done about this? Harold Meyerson says it’s recess appointments:

In particular, Obama can do what every one of his recent predecessors has done when their nominees have not been confirmed in the Senate — appoint them for an abbreviated term (good until the next Senate is convened in 2011) when the Senate stands in recess (as it next will over the President’s Day weekend). This procedure, called recess appointment, has been used relatively sparingly in the past because senators were relatively sparing in putting holds on nominees. But if the new normal in the Senate is the omnibus hold, the new normal in the White House should become the omnibus recess appointment.

That works for me. The larger issue, however, is that the confirmation process needs to be overhauled.