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No recess: Senate defends its authority

August 06. 2017 9:19PM

The U.S. Capitol (REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

When President Barack Obama grew frustrated that the Republican-controlled Senate was not confirming his nominees to the National Labor Relations Board, he tried to use his recess appointment power to fill the vacancies.

But the Senate never went into recess. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down Obama’s appointments, affirming the Senate’s right to prevent recess appointments during short breaks in the legislative calendar.

Last week, the Senate wisely exercised that power again, deciding unanimously to stay in pro-forma session to prevent President Donald Trump from making any recess appointments over the Senate’s August break.

Democrats have been needlessly bogging down many of Trump’s nominees, but that is no reason to abandon the Senate’s role in confirming executive branch nominations. There’s no telling who Trump would appoint absent the checks and balances of the Senate.

The move strengthens the position of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump is unlikely to get Senate confirmation of any replacement.

Last year, the Senate exercised its power by declining to consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. This year, the Senate is protecting its role in reviewing Trump’s nominations.

This is a welcome trend, and reversal of years of legislative surrender in the face of expanding executive power.

Politics Editorial

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