Barack Obama - Recess Appointments (1)

Last Updated : Mar 03, 2011


On March 27, 2010 President Barack Obama announced that he would be making 15 recess appointments as the Senate left for its Easter Break.


Recess Appointments - Background

Article II Section 2 Clause 2 of the Constitution requires that the President obtain the advice and consent of the US Senate for appointments to a wide range of offices:


To allow for those times when congress was away, clause 3 was written to allow the President to make appointments during congressional recess.  However, the appointment must be confirmed by the end of the session or the position becomes vacant again.


Recess appointments are not uncommon and they often involve the most contentious nominees.  When the Democrats took control of the Senate in 2007, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed not to let President Bush make any more recess appointments.  He would not allow the Senate to adjourn for more than three days at a time until the end of the Bush Presidency.


The Appointments

The recess appointments made at this time were as follows:

  • Jeffrey Goldstein
    • Under Secretary for Domestic Finance, Department of the Treasury
  • Michael F. Mundaca
    • Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, Department of the Treasury
  • Eric L. Hirschhorn
    • Under Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration and head of the Bureau of Industry and Security, Department of Commerce
  • Michael Punke
    • Deputy Trade Representative - Geneva, Office of the United States Trade Representative
  • Francisco J. Sánchez
    • Under Secretary for International Trade, Department of Commerce
  • Islam A. Siddiqui
    • Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
  • Alan D. Bersin
    • Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security
  • Jill Long Thompson
    • Member, Farm Credit Administration Board
  • Rafael Borras
    • Under Secretary for Management , Department of Homeland Security
  • Craig Becker
    • Board Member, National Labor Relations Board
  • Mark Pearce
    • Board Member, National Labor Relations Board
  • Jacqueline A. Berrien
    • Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Chai R. Feldblum
    • Commissioner, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Victoria A. Lipnic
    • Commissioner, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • P. David Lopez
    • General Counsel, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


Craig Becker - National Labor Relations Board 

Of the 15 appointments, that of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations board was the most controversial.  The 5 member National Labor Relations Board is tasked with supervising union elections, investigating labor practices and, issuing rulings that interpret the National Labor Relations Act.  Republicans in the Senate believed that Mr. Becker's previous job as associate general counsel at the Service Employees International Union, coupled with past statements favoring unions made Mr. Becker's viewpoint biased.


In a 1993 Minnesota Law Review article, written when he was a UCLA professor, Mr. Becker noted that employers should be barred from NLRB meetings even though they are guaranteed a spot at the table by law.

Mr. Becker also wrote that even though legally guaranteed, employers should not be allowed to question voter eligibility or the validity of the election results in elections to determine if a group is to unionize.

Mr. Becker has also stated in a 2005 Berkley paper that workers should not be allowed to not have a union, only the option to choose which union.


Prior to going on recess for Easter, the 41 Senate Republicans sent a letter to the President asking specifically not to appoint Craig Becker as  a recess appointment.  Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah made the following statement.


Press Release

What follows is the official White House Press Release announcing the recess appointments.





[1] Website: Article: Why You Should Know About Craig Becker (and Why You Need to Be Worried) Author: Brian Johnson Accessed on: 04/09/2010

[2] Website: American Thinker Article: Welcome extremist pro union lawyer Craig Becker to NLRB Author: Rick Moran Accessed on: 04/09/2010

[3] Website: Article: Craig Becker: In His Own Words Author: NA Accessed on: 03/03/2011

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