President Obama made six recess appointments Wednesday, allowing officials to bypass Senate confirmation to serve for approximately one year.
One of those appointments was an ambassador to Syria, a position that had been vacant since 2005 after the Bush Administration withdrew the ambassador over suspected Syrian involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in Beirut. Syria, which withdrew its forces from Lebanon after the assassination, has since exchanged ambassadors with the country and the two have established embassies.
Incoming Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said in a press release, “I am deeply disappointed that the President decided to make such a major concession to the Syrian regime. Using this Congressional recess to make an appointment that has far-reaching policy implications despite congressional objections and concerns is regrettable.”
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., called the appointment of James Cole — whose nomination was previously held up by Republicans due to a 2002 report he wrote voicing support for civilian trials for terror suspects — as deputy attorney general “absolutely shocking.”
There’s nothing unusual about recess appointments — they are allowed under Article Two of the Constitution. President Obama has made 28 recess appointments, while President George W. Bush had made 23 at a comparable time in his presidency. Their terms will expire — if the Senate does not confirm them — after the end of the next session of the Senate, which would be December 2011.
Luke Johnson reports for The American Independent.