Obama Recess Appointments Rare in Comparison to Previous Presidents

Monday, January 09, 2012
Teddy Roosevelt...the champion of recess appointments
Senate Republicans want the American people to think that President Barack Obama is on a “power grab” after using a recess appointment to install Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three new members to the National Labor Relations Board.
The challenge is based on the constitutionality of a Republican tactic known as a pro forma session, in which the existence of a recess is avoided by keeping the Senate open for a few minutes or less. The tactic was actually created by the Democrats in 2007 to prevent President George W. Bush from making recess appointments. With the shoe on the other foot, the Obama administration now says that pro forma sessions are irrelevant because no business is conducted.
Controversial though the argument may be, when it comes to sheer numbers, Obama has used recess appointments less frequently than any president in the last 30 years.
According to Mother Jones, Obama so far has averaged fewer than 10 recess appointments a year since assuming the Oval Office. This rate is considerably lower than Ronald Reagan’s, whose average was 30 a year, or that of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who averaged between 19 and 17 respectively, or even George W. Bush, whose yearly average was 21.
The real record belongs to President Teddy Roosevelt who, on December 7, 1903, during a blink of the eye recess between Congressional sessions, made 160 recess appointments.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff

Recess Appointments: Frequently Asked Questions (by Henry B. Hogue, Congressional Research Service) (pdf) 


Leave a comment