The Senate has exclusive right to define "recess" per the Constitution

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Submitted by Mark Michael (United States), Jan 30, 2013 13:49

I think the Constitution is quite clear on recess apointments vis-a-vie the executive branch. The Constitution gives Congress the unilateral right to define its own terms including what "recess" means. It does not have to be consistent with common usage. The big decision that the 1787 convention faced was whether or not to give the Congress any say over who the president had in his bureaucracy. Within the colonies, the appointed governor had the right to appoint his own staff without any say by the elected colony assembly.

They decided that the Congress should have a say, "advise and consent" (note the key word: consent) over the top officials in the executive branch. It would not apply to the great majority of underlinings, just the very top appointees.

The idea of "recess appointments" was nothing more than a practical consideration. In colonial times, assemblies usually just met 3 months a year. The executive branch had to operate all year. Those top officials might die, resign, or get fired in those other 9 months. The new president needed to have the authority to replace those departed officials to keep the government functioning.

But why did they allow a recess-appointed official to continue through the current "Session" and through the next "Session"? Again, just a practical consideration. Travel was very slow in 1787; it might take a month for an appointee to travel from Georgia to Philadelphia. Say he was recess-appointed a month before Congress came back into session. They then vetoed the new appointee. He'd have to pack up his family and slog back to Georgia for another whole month! Two months of traveling for 2 weeks of service - worst case. So they let them stay through the next "Session". A "Congress" is 2 years long during which you have the same legislators in both the House and the Senate. The "Congress" has two one-year "Sessions".

Given our modern communications, cheap plane flights for quickie impromptu sessions, the 1787 constitutional convention would never have bothered to include recess appointments IMO. There would have been no practical need for them.

What about the filibuster rules and the ability of individual Senators to put hold on appointments? Those are the exclusive rules of the Congress delegated entirely to the Senate by the Constitution. They have the power to change them at the beginning of each new 2-year Congress. If the "people's house" think they've emasculated the presidency with their current rules for handling prez appointees, let them change those rules. It's none of the business of the executive branch - or the judiciary branch. Or us the "people" kibbitzing from the sidelines. Unless we change the Constitution via its built-in amendment process!

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Title By Date
⇒ The Senate has exclusive right to define "recess" per the Constitution [450 words]Mark MichaelJan 30, 2013 13:49
Limiting Exec. Power [15 words]E. WilliamsJan 30, 2013 10:14

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