Lee Delivers Remarks on Obama's Unconstitutional Appointments

February 17, 2012

WASHINGTON—Today, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding his position on President Obama's unconstitutional appointments:
"On January 4, 2012, President Obama bypassed the Senate’ s constitutional right to advise and consent to nominees and instead unilaterally made appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and National Labor Relations Board.  He purported to do so under the Constitution’s Recess Appointments Clause, even though at the time of the appointments the Senate was holding pro-forma sessions approximately every 72 hours.  

"If allowed to stand, President Obama’s unprecedented and unconstitutional assertion of the recess appointment power could result in presidents of both parties routinely circumventing the Senate’s Advice and Consent function and thus depriving the people’s representatives of an essential constitutional check on the executive branch.  President Obama’s actions also violate the Constitution’s separation of powers.  He has asserted the unilateral power to override Congress’s own determination of when it is in session.  At an absolute minimum, the Senate’s institutional prerogatives demand that we be allowed to make our own rules, and yet President Obama’s actions would deprive our body of even that basic right.

"In the past, I have given the President’s judicial nominees great deference.  Both in the Judiciary Committee and on the floor, I have voted in favor of the vast majority of President Obama’s nominees, including many which whom I fundamentally disagree.  

"But I can do so no more.  The Founders expected that each branch of government would exercise the necessary constitutional means to resist encroachments by the other branches.  Among those constitutional means is the Senate’s Advice and Consent function, which I exercised today by voting against a nominee that otherwise might have received my support.  Thirty three other Senators did the same.

"The President cannot expect the Senate’s full cooperation at the same time that he does violence to this body’s constitutional prerogatives.   The threshold for confirming President Obama’s nominees must change accordingly.  Simply put, there is a new standard for confirmation.

"Both today, and in the coming days, I will join with other Senators to act as a check on the President’s unconstitutional conduct by voting against some nominees.  I expect that many of my Republican colleagues, and in time some of my Democratic colleagues, will rise in defense of the Constitution and vote against President Obama’s nominees until such time that he takes actions to restore the Senate’s full constitutional right to advise and consent to his nominees. "