December 20th, 2001

Labor Nominee Scalia May Get ‘Recess Appointment’

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Here’s a quiz. If you are the president of the United States, and you want to get your yet unconfirmed appointee into office, how do you do it? The answer, you can skip the congressional confirmation hearing altogether and install the nominee while congress is on break.

This is the scenario that may happen for controversial Labor Post Nominee Eugene Scalia. Scalia’s nomination has been criticized heavily due to his relation to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, his public opinion against workplace ergonomics rules, and a perceived lack of ‘hands on’ experience with the subject.

If congress fails to confirm Scalia before the holiday break, Bush has the authority to make ‘recess appointments’ when Congress is on break, but they would only serve in office through next year’s congressional session.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer stated, “The White House is hopeful that the Senate will fulfill its duties and will confirm the president’s remaining nominees this week before they leave,” adding that, “the Constitution does give the president authority to act otherwise.’

Some worry that exercising his authority to make recess appointments could anger some Democrats, but a senior aide to Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota said Daschle would not fight the move, noting that previous presidents, including Clinton, made similar appointments when Congress was on break.

Some want to see the appointments fully approved by congress before the holiday break. In a memorandum to the entire U.S. Senate, American Conservative Union (ACU) Chairman David A. Keene encouraged Senators to “vote in favor of a discharge petition to bring (Department of Labor Solicitor nominee Eugene Scalia’s) nomination to the floor and to vote in favor of his confirmation… before the end of this congressional session.”

The memo further states:

The failure of the Senate to allow floor votes on President Bush’s nominees has received much attention and been the subject of criticism from many quarters. However, of all the nominations pending before the Senate for confirmation, no case has reflected as poorly on the Senate as that of Eugene Scalia to be Solicitor for the Department of Labor.

Mr. Scalia has been approved by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, but his nomination languishes in the Senate because Majority Leader Daschle has refused to allow a vote by the full Senate.

While some — Senator Kennedy among them — may claim that Mr. Scalia’s opposition to Clinton Administration labor regulations on ergonomics is the issue, that position is specious especially since Congress itself voted in opposition to those same regulations.

On Sunday, Daschle said he would call a vote on it next year.



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