Nevada Senator Harry Reid (D), who leads the U.S. Senate and has since January 2007, began, in that year, using Pro Forma sessions to block G. W. Bush from making high-level appointments. Even the New York Times reports it, so you know it’s true. Not only has the NYT pited Harry, but inconveniently, the Senate has their own definition of a Pro Forma session:
pro forma session - From the Latin, meaning “as a matter of form,” a pro forma session is a brief meeting of the Senate (sometimes only a few minutes in duration). ~ Courtesy of U.S. Senate Glossary
So you see, it’s real. It’s not a trick. It’s in the official U.S. Senate Glossary and G. W. respected it. In other words, G.W., as with Presidents before him, only made recess appointments when the Senate was actually in recess, not in Pro Forma sessions. G.W. was Reid’s target and he Reid hit the bullseye.
Presidential appointments are made jointly by the President and the Senate. Even when the Senate is in recess, and a recess appointment is made, the Senate has to confirm the appointee before the next Senate is sworn in, or the position once again becomes vacant.
This week we saw a federal appeals court overturn three adjudged unconstitutional Obama appointments to the National Labor Review Board (NLRB). The Senate was in Pro Forma session. Harry Reid started it and now it’s payback time.
In January 2012 when Obama made the illegal appointment, no other than Harry Reid, the Daddy of Pro Forma Senate sessions, said he “supported” Obama’s decision to ignore the Constitution and Senate rules, but he wouldn’t have supported G. W. doing the same. Reid continued Pro Forma sessions for the remainder of the Bush presidency, and Bush did not challenge it.
The 3 unconstitutional appointees to the NRLB (the board that decides EVERYTHING in favor of Unions and little to nothing in favor of non-unionized businesses) should now render the hundreds of decisions handed down in the last year null and void. If I understood the list of those decisions (view them here), I think a number of business owners are celebrating this weekend.
The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by a Pepsi-Cola bottler from Washington state that challenged a National Labor Relations Board decision against the company in a labor dispute. The bottler argued, and the court agreed, that the three Obama appointments were invalid and that the five-seat board lacked a quorum to take any action. Source: Toledo Blade
Note that the Toldeo Blade linked above represents the unconstitutional appointments as recess appointments – total whitewash.
At the same time, during the same Pro Forma session, Obama appointed Richard Cordray to director of the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB), and that appointment is expected to also be unconstitutional.
The U.S. Senate makes their own rules, and Pro Forma sessions are allowed under current Senate rules, so when you hear the, at least 50, commentators I’ve heard today declare that the Senate was actually in recess, it was not. What will happen on appeal, assuming the Obama administration will appeal (of course they will), I don’t know, but you should know that Pro Forma sessions are valid under this Senate and have been since 2007 (maybe longer). Here’s what the Judge had to say about Obama being the “decider:”
“An interpretation of ‘the recess’ that permits the president to decide when the Senate is in recess would demolish the checks and balances inherent in the advice-and-consent requirement, giving the president free rein to appoint his desired nominees at any time he pleases, whether that time be a weekend, lunch, or even when the Senate is in session and he is merely displeased with its inaction,” wrote Judge David B. Sentelle. “This cannot be the law.”
Harry Reid spawned Pro Forma sessions – he’s the big Daddy. I think it’s hilarious. Graphic courtesy of DailyKos, Nov. 19, 2007, and note (assuming it is a valid graphic of the Senate floor schedule of November 20, 2007), it says “Pro Forma session” not “Recess Session.”