President Barack Obama, impatient with Congress' pace, made 15 recess appointments to key posts in his administration Saturday, meaning the nominees can serve through next year without Senate confirmation. Among the appointees: Craig Becker
, a controversial union lawyer, named to the National Labor Relations Board.
"The United States Senate has the responsibility to approve or disapprove of my nominees," Obama said in a statement
. "But, if in the interest of scoring political points, Republicans in the Senate refuse to exercise that responsibility, I must act in the interest of the American people and exercise my authority to fill these positions... I simply cannot allow partisan politics to stand in the way of the basic functioning of government."
Two appointees to the National Labor Relations Board, Becker, counsel to the Service Employees Union International, and Buffalo, N.Y. labor lawyer, Mark Peace, have drawn the ire of Republicans.
All 41 Senate Republicans signed a recent letter to the White House urging Obama not to use the Spring recess to appoint Becker, a former UCLA professor and a strong advocate for card check legislation which would make it easier for unions to organize. But after Congress left town on Friday, Obama acted on his own. The White House said the 15 nominees have waited an average of 214 days for their confirmation votes in the Senate, where a single senator can hold up such a procedure almost indefinitely. At a similar point in his presidency, George W. Bush had also made 15 recess appointments, the Obama White House said.
On Saturday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) said he was disappointed by Obama's action. He called Becker a "partisan nominee" and said his appointment was a "clear payback" to organized labor -- an important Democratic Party constituency. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said putting Becker on the NLRB board meant "the business community should be on red alert for radical changes that could significantly impair the ability of America's job creators to compete."
The other appointments included: Jeffrey Goldstein, under secretary for domestic finance in the Treasury Department; Michael F. Mundaca as assistant secretary for tax policy at Treasury; former Indiana Rep. Jill Long Thompson to the Farm Credit Administration Board, and Rafael Borras, under secretary for management, Department of Homeland Security.