Photograph by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.
It's looking like another Obama-vs.-Congress kind of year in Washington. This time, though Obama, is playing hardball from the start.
The president on Wednesday named Richard Cordray director the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Washington Post reports. By making the appointment while Congress was on break, Obama circumvented the usual requirement for Senate approval. Despite the support of a majority in the Senate, Cordray's confirmation was blocked last month by a filibustering Republican minority.
Technically the Senate was still in session, thanks to a Republican gimmick designed to prevent Obama from using his Constitutional powers to make appointments during a recess. Obama ignored that technicality, setting up a likely court battle.
He also announced plans to fill three vacancies to the National Labor Relations Board, the New York Times reports.
The Times points out that this marks an evolution of Obama's strategy to pit himself against an obstructionist Congress whose popularity is at an all-time low. "The only reason Republicans in the Senate have blocked Richard is because they don’t agree with the law that set up a consumer watchdog in the first place,” Obama said.
In a prepared statement, House Speaker John Boehner responded, "This is an extraordinary and entirely unprecedented power grab by President Obama that defies centuries of practice and the legal advice of his own Justice Department."
Read more at the New York Times.