Obama’s Recess Appointments Shift The Balance Of Power In Senate Back To The Majority

The Hill reports that, in return for a promise that President Obama will not make any recess appointments in the upcoming Senate break, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agreed to stop obstructing several of the president’s nominees:

“As the result of a successful discussion among the minority leader, the White House and myself there will be no recess appointments during the coming adjournment,” said [Majority Leader Harry] Reid, speaking from the Senate floor.

In return, Republicans allowed passage by unanimous consent of several of President Obama’s noncontroversial nominees and allowed Reid to set up a vote on the confirmation of Stephanie Thacker to be a circuit judge for the Fourth Circuit for April 16, the day the Senate returns from its break.

It is, of course, unfortunate that Reid needs to strike a deal at all before the caucus that controls less than half the seats in the Senate will deign to allow completely noncontroversial nominees to move forward. Nevertheless, this incident proves the wisdom of Obama’s decision to make several recess appointments earlier this year despite McConnell’s objections. Prior to Obama’s actions, he and Reid had few bargaining chips they could use to prevent McConnell’s obstructionism in a Senate ruled by the filibuster. Now, Obama and Reid can use the threat of future recess appointments to ensure that the party that voters did not want to control the Senate does not have a total veto power over the president’s nominees.