President Barack Obama made six recess appointments Wednesday, including the long-stalled placement of James Cole as deputy attorney general.
Senate Republicans blocked a confirmation vote on Cole during the lame-duck Congress. His nomination to become the second-ranking Justice Department official has been pending since July amid GOP criticism of his views on trying terrorist suspects in civilian courts and his role as an independent monitor of American International Group Inc. before its collapse.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy said the delay in confirming Cole was “unnecessary and wrong,” particularly given the importance of filling the slot.
“I have no question that Jim Cole is highly qualified to fill this vital law enforcement post,” the Vermont Democrat said in a statement. “His nomination received bipartisan support from public officials and from high-ranking veterans of the Justice Department, and I believe that he would have been confirmed by the Senate had his nomination been given an up-or-down vote.”
Also noteworthy among the recess appointments is the installation of Norman Eisen as ambassador to the Czech Republic. Eisen is a co-founder of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and most recently was the White House ethics czar until being nominated for the ambassador slot in August.
The other recess appointments are Matthew Bryza as ambassador to Azerbaijan, Robert Stephen Ford as ambassador to Syria, Francis Ricciardone Jr. as ambassador to Turkey and William Boarman as the public printer of the Government Printing Office.
The recess appointees will be able to serve until the end of the first session of the 112th Congress without Senate confirmation.
The president’s announcement came on the same day that the current public printer, Robert Tapella, abruptly announced his resignation. He did not state a reason for his departure, and an agency spokesman did not return requests for comment.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.