President Barack Obama announced Saturday that he will make recess appointments of 15 nominees to administration posts who are awaiting confirmation by the full Senate.
"The United States Senate has the responsibility to approve or disapprove of my nominees," Obama said in a written statement that also named the 15 individuals. "But if, in the interest of scoring political points, Republicans in the Senate refuse to exercise that responsibility, I must act in the interest of the American people and exercise my authority to fill these positions on an interim basis.
"Most of the men and women whose appointments I am announcing today were approved by Senate committees months ago, yet still await a vote of the Senate. At a time of economic emergency, two top appointees to the Department of Treasury have been held up for nearly six months. I simply cannot allow partisan politics to stand in the way of the basic functioning of government."
Obama senior adviser David Axelrod told CNN's Candy Crowley on Saturday that the Senate had declined to vote on five of former President George W. Bush's appointments at this point in his term, compared to 77 delayed appointments for Obama.
"The Republican Party has taken a position where they're going to try and slow and block progress on all fronts, whether it's legislation or appointments," Axelrod said in an interview to be aired Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
In a blog post about the appointments, White House deputy communications director Jen Psaki highlighted two other federal agencies.
"The roadblocks we've seen in the Senate have left some government agencies like the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission impaired in fulfilling their mission," Psaki wrote. "These agencies can now get back to working for the American people."
Republicans and business groups quickly denounced Obama's appointment of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board.
"The president's decision to override bipartisan Senate rejection of Craig Becker's nomination is yet another episode of choosing a partisan path despite bipartisan opposition," said U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "This is a purely partisan move that will make a traditionally bipartisan labor board an unbalanced agenda-driven panel."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also voiced opposition to Becker's appointment.
"Mr. Becker's prolific writings... suggest a radical view of labor law that flies in the face of established precedent and case law and is far outside the mainstream," said Randel K. Johnson, the chamber's senior vice president of labor, immigration and employee benefits.
"The business community should be on red alert for radical changes that could significantly impair the ability of America's job creators to compete," Johnson said in a statement.
Democrats applauded the recess appointments.
"Regrettably, Senate Republicans have dedicated themselves to a failed strategy to cripple President Obama's economic initiatives by stalling key administration nominees at every turn," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "With the recess appointments of these highly qualified individuals, President Obama has shown that he is serious about getting the right team in place to create jobs and protect the American workforce."
Labor groups welcomed the the appointment of Becker, along with that of Mark Pearce, to the NLRB.
"When jobs are scarce, workers are often forced to endure unfair working conditions," said Kimberly Freeman Brown, executive director for American Rights at Work. "America's workers need a fully functioning NLRB to mediate their claims for better wages, benefits and other rights now more than ever - and after two long years they have one."
Obama has the authority under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution to make recess appointments.
Obama intends to appoint:
¬∑ Jeffrey Goldstein: Nominee for Under Secretary for Domestic Finance, Department of the Treasury
¬∑ Michael F. Mundaca: Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, Department of the Treasury
¬∑ Eric L. Hirschhorn: Nominee for Under Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration and head of the Bureau of Industry and Security, Department of Commerce
¬∑ Michael Punke: Nominee for Deputy Trade Representative – Geneva, Office of the United States Trade Representative
¬∑ Francisco "Frank" J. Sanchez: Nominee for Under Secretary for International Trade, Department of Commerce
¬∑ Islam A. Siddiqui: Nominee for Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
¬∑ Alan D. Bersin: Nominee for Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security
¬∑ Jill Long Thompson: Nominee for Member, Farm Credit Administration Board
¬∑ Rafael Borras: Nominee for Under Secretary for Management, Department of Homeland Security
¬∑ Craig Becker: Nominee for Board Member, National Labor Relations Board
¬∑ Mark Pearce: Nominee for Board Member, National Labor Relations Board
¬∑ Jacqueline A. Berrien, Nominee for Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
¬∑ Chai R. Feldblum: Nominee for Commissioner, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
¬∑ Victoria A. Lipnic: Nominee for Commissioner, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
¬∑ P. David Lopez: Nominee for General Counsel, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission