Assessing Congressional Responses to Growing Presidential Powers: The Case of Recess Appointments

34 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2010

See all articles by Ryan C. Black

Ryan C. Black

Michigan State University - Department of Political Science

Michael S. Lynch

University of Kansas

Anthony J. Madonna

University of Georgia - Department of Political Science

Ryan J. Owens

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Political Science

Date Written: November 11, 2009

Abstract

In 2007, the Senate initiated a permanent session expressly to block the president from making recess appointments which would have circumvented the normal advice and consent process and left majority Senate Democrats without a voice in their selection. Using this example as our guide, we examine how Congress, like the 2007 Senate, can use its institutional powers to constrain unilateral presidential powers. We argue that Congress will stand up to presidents when the policy costs of legislative inaction are high and the political costs of action are low. Using multiple research approaches, we show that high political costs for majority party Senate Democrats drove them to find innovative and low-cost solutions to constrain the president. Had the Senate not employed its solution, we estimate that approximately 54% of all vacancies on major independent boards or agencies would have been filled by recess appointees.

Suggested Citation

Black, Ryan C. and Lynch, Michael S. and Madonna, Anthony J. and Owens, Ryan J., Assessing Congressional Responses to Growing Presidential Powers: The Case of Recess Appointments (November 11, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1568391 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1568391

Ryan C. Black

Michigan State University - Department of Political Science ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824
United States

HOME PAGE: http://ryancblack.org

Michael S. Lynch

University of Kansas ( email )

1415
Lawrence, KS 66045
United States

Anthony J. Madonna

University of Georgia - Department of Political Science ( email )

104 Baldwin Hall
Athens, GA 30602
United States

Ryan J. Owens (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Political Science ( email )

406 North Hall
1050 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States
608-263-2279 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://law.wisc.edu/profiles/rjowens@wisc.edu

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