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Congressman Chris Collins

Representing the 27th District of New York

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Congressman Chris Collins Introduces Constitutional Amendment to Block Presidential Recess Appointments

Jul 5, 2016
Press Release

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today introduced a joint resolution, which would amend the U.S. Constitution to block presidential recess appointments. In 2012, President Obama made several recess appointments while the Senate was in pro forma session. These appointments were later ruled unconstitutional.

“We have seen President Obama abuse his executive power via the pen and the phone too many times,” said Congressman Collins. “With the current Supreme Court vacancy possibly deciding the balance of the Court, we need to ensure that the president cannot circumvent the will of Congress to put someone on the Supreme Court. This Constitutional Amendment will protect the Legislative Branch’s ability to check the Executive Branch.”

Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution allows the president to nominate “Officers of the United States” with the “Advice and Consent of the Senate.”  This language allows the president to nominate positions including ambassadors, agency heads, and federal judges. After such nominations, these officers must then be voted on and confirmed by the Senate.

Clause 3 of this same section allows the president to “fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate.”  In 2014, the Supreme Court decided in NLRB v. Noel Canning that the president may not make a recess appointment when the Senate is in a pro forma session, but he may still make a recess appointment when the Senate is in an intra- or inter-session recess.  If someone were to be appointed during a recess, their commission would end at the end of that session of Congress. This Amendment to the Constitution would eliminate the president’s recess appointment power, forcing all important agency and court positions to be confirmed by the Senate. 

“It’s been 111 days since President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the bench, and while the Senate has continued to hold their ground on proceeding, we need to ensure the president cannot fill this slot – in the form of a recess appointment,” continued Congressman Collins. “The presidential recess appointment power served a legitimate purpose when Congress was out of session for long periods of time and it was difficult for members to get to Washington to confirm presidential appointments, but now the power only serves as a way for the president to circumvent the Senate confirmation process.”

Full text of the proposed joint resolution amending the Constitution can be read here. Original cosponsors include Michael Bishop (R-MI), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Pete Olson (R-TX), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).