Obama Stands Up for Workers, Consumers with Recess Appointments

by Karl Stark  |  January 05, 2012

Right-wing politicians and commentators condemned President Obama yesterday for using his constitutional authority to fill vacancies at two agencies tasked with protecting workers’ and consumers’ rights: the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Leading the charge was Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who said the U.S Senate should “sue” the President for filling vacancies. He was joined today by fellow Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who said Congress should defund the NLRB entirely. (For more information on congressional attacks on the NLRB this year, read here, here and here.)

But many Republicans in Congress have refused to even allow an up-or-down vote on the nomination of Richard Cordray since the CFPB opened its doors in July 2011. In May, 44 Senate Republicans signed a letter stating, “We will not support the consideration of any nominee, regardless of party affiliation, to be the CFPB director until the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is reformed.” 

Fed up with the obstruction, President Obama appointed Cordray as director of the CFPB and also filled three vacancies on the NLRB by appointing Sharon Block, Terence Flynn and Richard Griffin to the agency. President Obama said:

“The American people deserve to have qualified public servants fighting for them every day – whether it is to enforce new consumer protections or uphold the rights of working Americans. We can’t wait to strengthen the economy and restore security for our middle class and those trying to get in it, and that’s why I’m proud to appoint these fine individuals to get to work for the American people.”

Cordray has served as chief of enforcement at the CFPB, and was formerly Ohio’s attorney general. For more information on Cordray and the GOP’s hindrance of the CFPB, read here.

Block is the deputy assistant secretary for Congressional Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor, and formerly worked for Sen. Edward Kennedy as senior labor and employment counsel for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Flynn is currently the chief counsel to current NLRB Board Member Brian Hayes, and was previously chief counsel to former NLRB Board Member Peter Schaumber. Griffin is currently the general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers and serves on the board of directors for the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee.

AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee praised President Obama’s actions, saying:

“By making these recess appointments, President Obama has once again stood up for the 99% and said ‘Enough!’ to congressional Republican obstructionism. American families deserve to have dedicated servants protecting them from Wall Street abuses and egregious corporate activity and protecting the rights of working families and consumers. We commend President Obama for using his constitutional authority.”

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