Obama on Saturday announced he would make 15 recess appointments

U.S. Chamber of Commerce denounces appointment to NLRB

Major labor group applauds choice of Craig Becker to board

Some administration appointments have been held up for months in the Senate

 President Obama announced Saturday that he will make recess appointments of 15 nominees to administration posts who are awaiting confirmation by the full Senate.

“The United States Senate has the responsibility to approve or disapprove of my nominees,” Obama said in a written statement that also named the 15 individuals. “But if, in the interest of scoring political points, Republicans in the Senate refuse to exercise that responsibility, I must act in the interest of the American people and exercise my authority to fill these positions on an interim basis.

“Most of the men and women whose appointments I am announcing today were approved by Senate committees months ago, yet still await a vote of the Senate. At a time of economic emergency, two top appointees to the Department of Treasury have been held up for nearly six months. I simply cannot allow partisan politics to stand in the way of the basic functioning of government.”

In a blog post about the appointments, White House deputy communications director Jen Psaki highlighted two other federal agencies.

“The roadblocks we’ve seen in the Senate have left some government agencies like the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission impaired in fulfilling their mission,” Psaki wrote. “These agencies can now get back to working for the American people.”

Axelrod: Senate “has a responsibility” to act on nominations

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce quickly denounced Obama’s appointment of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board.

“Mr. Becker’s prolific writings … suggest a radical view of labor law that flies in the face of established precedent and case law and is far outside the mainstream,” said Randel K. Johnson, the chamber’s senior vice president of labor, immigration and employee benefits.

“This recess appointment disregards the Senate’s bipartisan rejection of Craig Becker’s nomination to the NLRB,” Johnson said in a statement. “The business community should be on red alert for radical changes that could significantly impair the ability of America’s job creators to compete.”

On Thursday, all 41 Republican senators signed a letter urging Obama not to appoint Becker, saying it would “bypass the advice and consent traditions of the Senate.”

Senate Republicans, along with two Democrats, effectively blocked Becker’s nomination on February 9.

“The Senate has made its feelings clear on Mr. Becker and his ability to serve in a fair and impartial manner as a member of the NLRB,” Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said in a statement on Thursday.

But a major labor group applauded the appointment of Becker, along with that of Mark Pearce, to the NLRB.

“When jobs are scarce, workers are often forced to endure unfair working conditions,” said Kimberly Freeman Brown, executive director of American Rights at Work. “America’s workers need a fully functioning NLRB to mediate their claims for better wages, benefits and other rights now more than ever — and after two long years they have one.”

Becker currently is associate general counsel with two labor organizations, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the AFL-CIO.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also welcomed the appointments Saturday.

“Regrettably, Senate Republicans have dedicated themselves to a failed strategy to cripple President Obama’s economic initiatives by stalling key Administration nominees at every turn,” said Reid spokesman Jim Manley. “With the recess appointments of these highly qualified individuals, President Obama has shown that he is serious about getting the right team in place to create jobs and protect the American work force.”

The president has the authority under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution to make recess appointments.

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Besides Becker, the other 14 recess appointees are:

• Jeffrey Goldstein, under secretary for domestic finance, Department of the Treasury

• Michael F. Mundaca, assistant secretary for tax policy, Department of the Treasury

• Eric L. Hirschhorn, under secretary of commerce for export administration and head of the Bureau of Industry and Security, Department of Commerce

• Michael Punke, deputy trade representative – Geneva, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

• Francisco “Frank” J. Sanchez, under secretary for international trade, Department of Commerce

• Islam A. Siddiqui, chief agricultural negotiator, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

• Alan D. Bersin, commissioner, U.S. Customs and border Protection, Department of Homeland Security

• Rafael Borras, under secretary for management , Department of Homeland Security

• Jill Long Thompson, Farm Credit Administration Board

• Mark Gaston Pearce, National Labor Relations Board

• Jacqueline A. Berrien, chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

• Chai R. Feldblum, commissioner, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

• Victoria A. Lipnic: commissioner, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

• P. David Lopez: general counsel, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission