Better relations with Congress? Actions speak louder than words

Amid talk of mending fences, Bush uses recess appointments to overcome congressional objections.

By Tim Grieve
April 20, 2006 9:27PM (UTC)
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There's been a lot of talk about how the changes at the White House are aimed at improving relations with Congress. Is it for real? You be the judge.

On the same day that the Bush administration was announcing Karl Rove's job change and Scott McClellan's departure, the president used his recess-appointment power to reappoint two public representatives to the board of trustees for Social Security and Medicare. Why make the appointments through recess appointments rather than through the usual Senate confirmation process? Because, as the New York Times reports, senators on both sides of the aisle had urged the president to find new appointees for the board.


"The White House has failed to consult in good faith with Congress on new nominees for these positions," Democratic Sen. Max Baucus tells the Times. Baucus said that the public representatives on the Social Security and Medicare board have never served more than one term, and it's "vital to have new blood and fresh thinking for these programs so critical to all Americans." Republican Sen. Charles Grassley also expressed disappointment in the recess appointments, saying he hoped for a "return to the goal of having fresh faces on the board."

He probably shouldn't hold his breath. However they've got the deck chairs arranged, the president still gets to "decide what is best" -- at least when Congress is on recess.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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