In a move that is certain to sit ill with congressional Democrats, who currently hold the Senate majority President Bush, Friday 1/11, signed in two controversial appointments included Eugene Scalia to the position of top legal adviser to the Department of Labor.
The Constitution gives the president the power during Senate recesses to install nominees, without Senate approval, until the end of the next session of Congress. A White House official has said that [they] will urge the Senate to take up the nominations in the meantime.
Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo. said of the appointment, “Faced with a pitched partisan confirmation battle in the Senate, putting Eugene Scalia in place as a recess appointment is the president’s only option.’
Scalia, who is expected to start working in a few days, will be charged with enforcing nearly 200 labor laws. He will also provide legal advice and guidance on virtually every initiative of the department in areas such as safety and health, minimum wage and pension security. He will be regarded as a top lieutenant to Secretary Elaine Chao.
In a confirmation hearing in October of last year, Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., questioned whether Scalia had the “necessary empathy for workers in order to adequately and properly represent them.’ Scalia has largely been criticized by many for making comments regarding ergonomics as ‘quackery’ and ‘junk science’. Some also feel that his relation to Supreme Court Justice Scalia could possibly hinder his enforcement of labor laws.
Scalia has said that labor laws “are to be taken seriously, and if confirmed I pledge to enforce them vigorously. For a lawyer to shade or slant his legal advice to advance a private agenda is among the gravest betrayals of his solemn duty as an attorney.”
Sen. Judd Gregg R -NH, has defended Scalia, saying it makes no sense to disqualify him based on his opposition to a regulation killed by bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate.
“His views do not differ greatly and are certainly not out of the mainstream of the United States Congress,’ Gregg said.