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POLITICS: White House

Presidents deserve a vote on their nominees; Senators deserve to vote on nominees

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Beltway Confidential,White House,Congress,Timothy P. Carney,Barack Obama,Senate,Analysis

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case challenging President Obama’s aggressive use of recess appointments. It will be an important moment in the ever-escalating bipartisan war involving recess appointments and filibustering of nominees.

There are hypocrites in both parties, and blame on both parties. I think the most interesting question would be “how can we de-escalate and establish a fair system?”

Here are my two principles:

1) Recess appointments should basically only be used to fill urgent vacancies that occur between sessions of Congress — i.e., almost never.

2) A President’s nominees deserve an up-or-down vote. Filibusters are really only legitimate if the nominee and the administration are refusing legitimate requests for documents or answer to questions.

What does this mean, policywise? That’s a trickier question. Maybe the recess-appointment power needs to be trimmed (and the court may do so), and maybe the norms in the Senate need to be returned to older, less-filibustery norms.

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