Discussing “one other option” President Bush could resort to in order to secure John R. Bolton's appointment as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, if the Senate rejects Bolton's nomination, CNN host Wolf Blitzer had this suggestion for Bush: "[H]e could do what former president Bill Clinton used to do, have what's called recess appointments and just get his nominee through with that technical procedure." CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield responded by noting that a recess appointment may occur only “when the Congress is in recess,” but he neglected to mention that Bush has already demonstrated ample willingness to employ the procedure on his own: He made 110 recess appointments during his first term -- nearly as many as Clinton made during two terms in office.
A recess appointment is a temporary, unilateral appointment by the president to a position that normally requires Senate confirmation. The term expires at the end of the next Senate session or when either the recess appointee or another individual is nominated, confirmed by the Senate, and permanently appointed to the position. According to a March 15 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service on recess appointments, “President William J. Clinton made 140 recess appointments during his eight years in office, 95 to full-time positions. During his first term in office, President George W. Bush made 110 recess appointments, of which 66 were to full-time positions.”
From the May 12 edition of CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports:
BLITZER: The [Bolton] nomination will come up for a full vote in the Senate, but there is one other option the president could have. On controversial nominations, he could do what former president Bill Clinton used to do, have what's called recess appointments and just get his nominee through with that technical procedure.
GREENFIELD: Well, you do that, though, when the Congress is in recess. Which it is not now.
BLITZER: But they will be in recess fairly soon.
A tip from reader D.R. contributed to this item. Thanks, and keep them coming.