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Senate GOP Not United on Nominations

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Sen. Lindsey Graham said that he would sue to invalidate the president's recess appointments if he could but that he likely didn't have legal standing to do so.

“In March 2008, well before the political conventions that year, then-Chairman Leahy stated, ‘It is a rule we still follow, and it will take effect very soon here,’” Grassley said. “I just wanted to remind my colleagues of the history regarding the historical practice and precedents of this committee in presidential election years.”

Sen. Mike Lee, another member of the Judiciary Committee, also threatened to slow down the nomination process and possibly other legislation until the appointments are withdrawn.

“Given this president’s blatant and egregious disregard both for proper constitutional procedures and the Senate’s unquestioned role in such appointments, I find myself duty-bound to resist the consideration and approval of additional nominations until the president takes steps to remedy the situation,” the Utah Republican said at today’s hearing. “Regardless of the precise course I choose to pursue, the president certainly will not continue to enjoy my nearly complete cooperation, unless and until he rescinds his unconstitutional recess appointments.”

Also today, Sen. Roger Wicker said he would boycott a Banking Committee hearing scheduled for next week where Cordray is scheduled to testify.

“I will not provide the administration with the appearance of legitimacy, and I will, therefore, not be in attendance at next Tuesday’s hearing,” the Mississippi Republican said on the Senate floor.

Other Republicans on the Banking Committee may follow Wicker and not show as well.

Other Republicans are considering legal, legislative and procedural options but would not give any specifics.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, also a member of the Judiciary Committee, acknowledged that Republicans have yet to get behind a single approach.

The South Carolina Senator said Republicans discussed the issue at the Senate GOP retreat Wednesday but that “there was no consensus.”

Graham said that he would sue to invalidate the appointments if he could but that he likely didn't have legal standing to take action in the courts. “That is how strongly I feel about this. This is clearly a game changer in terms of how the recess appointment has been used over the last couple of hundred years,” Graham said.

GOP Senators could try to slow progress on White House or other Democratic initiatives, but no Members to date have announced that they plan to do so.

Senate Democrats are behind Obama on the issue. After a news conference Wednesday, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who pioneered the pro forma session strategy to stave off recess appointments from President George W. Bush, declined to say whether he personally believed that the Senate was in recess. Instead, he reiterated his support for the recess appointments and said the president had no other choice.

“It’s a constitutional right the president has,” Reid said. “They were basically giving the president no nominations. For example, they don’t like a law we passed, so they are not going have any people to fill the [top] position to make that law effective.”

He said that Cordray’s situation was unprecedented in that he was held up not over his qualifications, but over the GOP’s dislike of the financial reform law that established the CFPB.

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