A federal appeals court Friday ruled that President Obama’s appointment of three people to the National Labor Relations Board last January was unconstitutional, determining that Obama had made “recess” appointments last January when the Senate was in fact not in recess.
The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit could have bearing on the appointment of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Cordray was appointed at the same time, and a separate case challenging his appointment is also wending its way through the courts.
Obama appointed Cordray and the NLRB officials after the Senate did not act on their nominations. Ironically, Obama renominated Cordray Thursday for the position.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the ruling would have no ripple effect and only apply to the case that was considered by the appeals court, suggesting that decisions made by the NLRB since the invalid appointments would stand and Cordray wouldn’t be affected.
He gave no hint what the administration’s next step would be.
Organizing for Action, the newly formed “grassroots” group that will help President Obama try to promote and pass his agenda, today sent out a fundraising and membership-building email that cites the Newtown massacre as a reason to “pull together” behind the president.
The email, which was sent out under Vice President Joe Biden’s name and is signed by him, includes a link to a page on the Organizing for Action website that asks people to provide their email address. The page has a separate link that takes viewers to another area of the website where they can donate.
In the message, Biden talks about Obama’s gun control agenda, and then he tugs at the heart strings:
Right now, President Obama is counting on you.
Each one of us needs to speak up and demand action. It doesn’t matter whether you live in a big city or a small town like Newtown, Connecticut. When our fellow Americans are victims of senseless violence, we all pull together as one American family.
Let’s get this done, folks.
Whether the action we take saves one life or 1,000, it matters.
Organizing for Action was created this month out of the Obama 2012 campaign and is believed to possess an email list more than 20 million strong and include thousands of activists.
President Obama will make significant changes to the seating arrangements on the ship of state, appointing Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough to be White House Chief of staff and tapping Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer to serve as “senior adviser.”
McDonough has little experience running anything, having served as a veteran Capitol Hill and Washington staffer and insider, but he is deeply trusted by the president. Pfeiffer, whose influence has already been thought to exceed the communications portfolio, will now officially serve as a kind of consigliere to the president, replacing the departing David Plouffe.
Pfeiffer recently suggested that Republicans and the U.S. system of government were not worthy of Obama’s agenda.
Deputy Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, a veteran Democratic operative who served under Bill Clinton, will become the new communications chief, helping Obama rebut some of the murmuring that he has failed to put women in senior-level positions.
Since these are White House appointments, they do not require Congressional approval. Obama will announce the staff changes during an East Room event at 12:10 pm ET, which I will live stream for you.
President Obama remains stuck with historically low approval ratings, a potentially severe handicap that could hamper his ability to pass his second term agenda.
Despite recent reports ballyhooing a rise in Obama’s approval numbers, which according to Gallup had edged up to 58 percent in December, Obama is back to a bare majority, with only 52 percent giving him the thumbs up in both Gallup and Pew Center surveys.
The polling shows Obama essentially got no bounce from his Inauguration, with his approval rating having been at about 51 percent before giving a speech widely held to be a partisan recitation of liberal principles.
Fifty two percent is exactly where George W. Bush was at the start of his second term. But unlike Obama, Bush had won the presidency by a sliver and was embroiled in an unpopular war. Bush’s signature second term initiative, Social Security reform, was a dismal failure.
Bill Clinton, who had some significant legislative successes – particularly on the budget – in the first year of his second term, was at 60 percent approval post-Inauguration Day 1997. Clinton’s average approval rating for his second term was 61 percent.
Obama is well off the highs he recorded after his first Inauguration, when his approval was close to 70 percent. Still, Obama’s current level is an improvement over numbers that had been stuck around the mid-40s for much of 2012.