December 29th, 2010
06:30 PM ET
HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) - Taking time out from his Hawaiian vacation to assert some executive authority, President Obama used a series of recess appointments to override Republican objections to several nominees.
Obama used his Constitutional power to recess appoint six people who have had their nominations pending for an average of 147 days, according to White House officials.
White House officials said privately that the president acted because of Republican obstructionism on the nominees, which include the prestigious posts of deputy attorney general and ambassadors to Turkey, the Czech Republic, and the Syrian Arab Republic.
Senate Republican aides did not have any immediate comment on the recess appointments, which essentially allows these nominees to serve in their posts in a temporary capacity for about one year. If the nominees are not confirmed by the end of the next session of Congress, which is likely to end next November or December, the post will become vacant again.
The list includes James Cole, who was nominated to be deputy attorney general. A longtime Washington attorney, he is best known for serving as special counsel in the House ethics investigation of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R). A major reason Cole's nomination had been held up was because of concern raised by Republicans he once had worked as an independent consultant for the insurance giant AIG.
Norm Eisen, the nominee for ambassador to the Czech Republic, also received a recess appointment. He most recently served as special counsel inside the White House on ethical issues.
Another recess appointee was Matthew Bryza, who was nominated to be ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan, and is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service.
Also on the list is Robert Stephen Ford, who was nominated to be ambassador to the Syrian Arab Republic. He is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service who currently works in the State Department's office of inspector general.
Obama also recess appointed Francis J. Ricciardone Jr. was nominated to be ambassador to the Republic of Turkey. He has served most recently as deputy ambassador and Charge; d; Afaires at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Rounding out the list is William J. Boarman, who was nominated to be public printer of the United States. He has served as president of the Printing, Publishing & Media Workers Sector of the Communications Workers of America.
White House officials note that Senate Democrats have been forced to seek a supermajority of 60 votes to confirm 21 of the president's nominees because of Republican roadblocks, while former President Bush only need to seek so-called "cloture" votes on four of his nominees in 8 years.
In all, 18 of those Obama nominees were subsequently confirmed with 60 or more votes or by voice vote in the last two years, suggesting that they were relatively non-controversial. White House officials also note Bush had made 23 recess appointments by this point in his presidency.
The Obama officials note that at the end of Bush’s first two years, there were only 6 nominees awaiting a Senate vote. By contrast, Obama had 79 nominees pending on the floor when the Senate adjourned last week.
In all, Obama has now made 28 recess appointments, five more than Bush had made at this point, even though White House aides assert Bush faced less opposition to his picks.