Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today announced that the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on February 15 to examine questions regarding the constitutionality of recent recess appointments by the Obama administration. Chairman Smith released the following statement regarding the President's recess appointments of Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three individuals to the National Labor Relations Board.
Chairman Smith: "President Obama's recent appointments are unprecedented and possibly unconstitutional. The President may make appointments while the Senate is in recess, however these appointments were made while the Senate was not--something no other President has attempted.
"The Constitution gives the Senate the authority to determine the rules of its proceedings. The President cannot unilaterally decide to rush through "recess appointments' while the Senate is not in recess. Doing so threatens the oversight powers of the Senate and the separation of powers that is fundamental to our Constitution. And it sets a dangerous precedent for future administrations that want to avoid transparency and the constitutional role of the Senate to vote on certain nominations.
"These appointments continue the administration's pattern of manipulating Executive authority to avoid having to secure support from Congress. Pro forma sessions were never meant to be a window for the Administration to appoint whomever it likes to powerful government positions. This power grab threatens the role of Congress and raises serious constitutional questions.
"The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to determine whether or not the President's appointments are constitutional and in the best interests of the American people."
Background: On January 4, 2012, the White House appointed four individuals using the recess appointment authority to bypass congressional approval of the nominees. But the Senate, which has the constitutional authority to provide advice and consent on certain presidential appointments was not actually in recess. This intentional attempt to circumvent the authority of the Senate granted by our Founding Fathers poses serious constitutional questions and undermines the validity of the recent appointments. The House Judiciary Committee hearing will examine all of the constitutional questions surrounding these appointments.