Recess appointment

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A recess appointment is a presidential appointment of an individual to an executive position while the Senate is not in session. Though Constitutionally permissible, the duration and frequency of their use is a matter of contention.

Contents

Historical perspective

Constitution

Recess appointments are authorized by Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which states, "The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session."

History and use

Since the beginning of the United States, recess appointments have been used by presidents to avoid senatorial approval of nominees. After the Senate failed to confirm John Rutledge as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, President George Washington waited until a Senate recess and appointed him there. [1]

More recently, presidents have turned to recess appointments frequently:

  • President Ronald Reagan used this privilege 243 times. [2]
  • President George H.W. Bush used this privilege 77 times. [3]
  • President Bill Clinton used this privilege 140 times. [4]
  • President George W. Bush has used privilege 171 times (as of April 4, 2007).[5]

Today

The use of recess appointments came under heavy scrutiny under the presidency of George W. Bush. Many, including Democratic presidential primary candidate Chris Dodd, (D-Conn) have called for the curtailing or removing this privilege. Two of the most recent and notable figures to be appointed by this method are:

  • Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, appointed in August 2005;
  • Donor to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth Sam Fox, as U.S. ambassador to Belgium, April 2007.[6]
  • For a more complete list of recess appointments made by President George W. Bush (click here)

Resources and articles

Related Congresspedia/SourceWatch articles

References

  1. "Chief Justice Nomination Rejected," Senate Historical Office, Accessed April 17, 2007.
  2. "Bush bypasses Senate to name ambassador" Yahoo News, April 4, 2007.
  3. "Bush bypasses Senate to name ambassador" Yahoo News, April 4, 2007.
  4. "Bush bypasses Senate to name ambassador" Yahoo News, April 4, 2007.
  5. "Bush bypasses Senate to name ambassador" Yahoo News, April 4, 2007.
  6. "Bush bypasses Senate to name ambassador" Yahoo News, April 4, 2007.

External articles

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