Trump Makes Presidential History With No Recess Appointments
December 1, 2019 | by James G. Dalton
President Donald Trump has yet to make a recess appointment and would become the first president since William Henry Harrison, who died shortly after his inauguration, to end his term without making one, The Washington Times reports.
According to Article II of the Constitution, the president has the “power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.”
“It’s a very important presidential power,” Hans von Spakovsky, a legal scholar with the Heritage Foundation who joined the Federal Election Commission via a recess appointment in 2006, told the newspaper.
“The whole point of that authority was to be able to temporarily fill important positions in the government,” he added. “If anything, that’s gotten even more important since our founding because of the huge increase of the size of the federal government, and it’s not a good thing to have all these empty slots.”
Although previous presidents made dozens, or even hundreds, or recess appointments, members of the House and Senate began to find ways of blocking the process. Democrats during President George W. Bush’s administration used their Senate majority to have Congress meet every three days, holding it in session throughout the year. Republicans then took up that same strategy once they won control of the House during President Barack Obama’s first term.
The White House seems unconcerned about the lack of recess appointments, with Trump reportedly preferring to have officials serve in an acting role, which many are.
“He’s acting in a way to make up for the problems caused by the slowdown being caused by Democrats in the Senate,” von Spakovsky said. “If he could make recess appointments, he wouldn’t have to be put through that other effort.”