The fact that Congress has taken January and spring recesses this year without the accompanying pro forma charades indicates the White House is giving the Senate informal assurances it will not attempt any recess appointments. Such assurances were proffered sporadically in past years, but will presumably be more regular this year to avoid jeopardizing any further agency or court decisions pending high-court action on the NLRB case.
Ideally, this armistice period could have opened the way for the two branches to establish a more reliable appointments protocol. However, four stalled nominations to the D.C. Court of Appeals have soured that possibility: Reid is threatening to reactivate “the nuclear option” of changing filibuster rules by majority vote if Republicans don’t yield. Enjoy your recesses while you can: This silent spring could turn to nuclear winter.
Don Wolfensberger is a resident scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, and former staff director of the House Rules Committee.