With that in mind, Senate Democrats said they have little faith that Bush will play nice and refrain from making the controversial appointments. Democrats have been blindsided by Bush before, particularly in April when the president tapped three controversial nominees for executive branch slots.
“I always worry about it,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
“I think every time there’s a recess, people are concerned that the president might use that” option, echoed Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), the Democratic Conference secretary.
Democrats are still recovering from the hangover of GOP donor Sam Fox, whom Bush named as ambassador to Belgium during the Easter recess. Fox had contributed to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which helped sink the 2004 presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).
Many believe the Fox appointment, along with two other controversial nominations from the same period in April, prompted Reid to agree to the arrangement with the administration before heading into the August break.
Although a similar deal for November isn’t off the table, neither side seemed to be leaning toward striking one as of Wednesday night.
Democrats, for their part, are no doubt hardened after narrowly agreeing to Bush’s pick for attorney general in Michael Mukasey, and his controversial selection for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court in Leslie Southwick.
Republicans, meantime, are stockpiling whatever influence they can as the minority party and already foresee the possibility of a Democratic White House in 2009. With that in mind, several GOP Senate sources say they welcome any recess appointment fight.
“I’m not hearing anything about it, but I always encourage it over the recess and I always anticipate one,” a Republican leadership aide said.