Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Sunday a recent court ruling “could well” invalidate a year’s worth of actions made by President Obama’s appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
On Friday, a federal appeals court ruled that Obama's controversial appointments of a trio of members to head the NLRB were unconstitutional. Those appointments were made the same day Obama named Richard Cordray as the first director of the CFPB, leading many to question whether Cordray's appointment could be the next to be struck down.
“Could well do it,” Corker responded. “In each case someone might have to challenge those rulings to make them invalid, but certainly that’s what we said at the time – these people were going to be working in vain and the rulings that they come forth with were going to be challenged. That’s turned out to be the case.”
Corker added that the court ruling “was a huge victory for anybody that believes in balance of power and the Constitution,” and called the appointments “the most abusive cases ever” of presidential overreach.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (D), appearing on the same show, shot back that the administration made the appointments out of “frustration” that Republicans in the Senate refused to give Obama appointees a fair hearing.
“Why did we reach this point? Why did the president believe these recess appointments were so critical,” Durbin asked. “I think you can see we reached that point because we couldn’t go through the orderly process of reviewing nominees and literally voting on them. It was a question about how often they would be brought to the floor, how long they would languish on the calendar, what secret hold would apply, whether or not there would ever be a vote. And in its frustration this administration said we were elected to govern… they wanted to put people in place to govern.”
A filibuster-proof number of Republicans blocked Cordray's nomination at the end of 2011. They warned that they would oppose any nominee to head the bureau until its structure was changed so it was run by a bipartisan commission instead of a lone director.
“We have seen this president denied the opportunity to make appointments over and over and over again because one senator happens to hate a particular agency or person,” Durbin said. “For goodness sakes, give them a hearing, give them a vote.”
At the time of the move, Congress had been holding brief "pro forma sessions," lasting just a few minutes, in an effort to keep Congress in session over longer breaks, thereby blocking recess appointments. The White House argued after it made the appointments that these brief sessions do not constitute legitimate sessions of Congress.
The NLRB court ruling came one day after Obama had re-nominated Cordray as CFPB director. His recess appointment, if it is not struck down, would expire at the end of 2013.