With the Senate Republican minority now blocking essentially all confirmations, one option available to President Obama is recess appointments. Except now he can’t do that either:
Following the House, the Senate will hold a series of “pro forma” sessions over the next month, effectively blocking President Barack Obama from making any appointments during Congress’ August recess. That means Obama won’t be able to seat his pick to lead the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, whose nomination Republicans have vowed to oppose until Obama makes changes watering down the agency’s authority. After passing the debt limit legislation on Monday, House leaders announced they would hold pro forma sessions through August, a procedural move that forced the Senate to follow suit. The Constitution requires that for either chamber to take more than a three-day break, the other chamber must give its approval.
I find that my mood around this fluctuates. Mondays and Wednesdays I’m frustrated by lefties who seem to see the unprecedented Republican obstruction the President is dealing with as part of an 11-dimensional chess game through which Obama “really” wants his progressive initiatives to be frustrated at every term. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I think this is the most damning critique of all. In the face of an opposition that’s been relentlessly innovative, the White House has been staggeringly uncreative. Rather than a game of tit-for-tat, the Republicans seem to be inside the administration’s decision loop, heading off their retaliatory options before the President has even exercised them.