The Senate will be coming in for pro-forma sessions during the Thanksgiving holiday to prevent recess appointments.
My hope is that this will prompt the President to see that it is our mutual interests for the nominations process to get back on track.
While an election year looms, significant progress can still be made on nominations.
I am committed to making that progress if the President will meet me half way.
But that progress can’t be made if the President seeks controversial recess appointments and fails to make Democratic appointments to important commissions.
As Democratic leader, I recommend nominees to the President for many important commissions like the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
These independent agencies are required by law to have Democratic representation.
As a result, the President has a statutory obligation to honor my recommendations and move on them in good faith.
And, up until recently, the President has generally discharged that obligation.
In the last several months, however, the administration has been stalling progress on Democratic appointments.
This problem existed before the August break.
In an effort to solve it, I worked hard to confirm over 40 administration nominees in exchange for a commitment by the President to make progress on a number of important commissions.
When we reconvened after August break, I also worked to quickly move on the President’s new Attorney General.
I did this despite my own opposition to that nominee.
Even with all this hard work on our side, the commitments the administration made to me before August break were not met.
In the almost three months since that break, we have received no Democratic nominees to full-time commission positions.
For some, in fact, absolutely no discernable progress has been made.
With Thanksgiving break looming, the administration informed me that they would make several recess appointments.
I indicated I would be willing to confirm various appointments if the administration would agree to move on Democratic appointments.
They would not make that commitment.
As a result, I am keeping the Senate in pro-forma to prevent recess appointments until we get this process back on track.
I was very upset that our Democratic "leaders" were not going to do anything to prevent this, since it was something we knew was coming. Not only is the idea of Bush going behind the Senate's back to do this wrong, but the fact that he wants to appoint a homophobe to the post of Surgeon General is ridiculous! The Senate requested answers to some questions that Holsinger never answered, therefore he never got a hearing. Bush thinks he can get away with just "doing it anyway", and if the Senate was going to let it happen, when it could so easily be prevented, I was going to be pissed to put it mildly.
Thank you, Harry Reid!