Two Republican members of the Louisiana delegation last week blasted President Barack Obama on his bypassing Senate Republicans in making a recess appointment to the new Consumer Financial Protection Board.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, protested the move because they said it bypassed the normal Senate confirmation process.
The president is allowed to make appointments when the Senate is in recess. But the Senate has been staying in session by conducting pro forma sessions, a tactic that House Republicans instigated to keep the U.S. Senate in session and block any recess appointments.
The Senate is the chamber that approves administration nominations.
“This is an unprecedented move, and frankly, it’s pretty troubling,” Vitter said in a prepared statement. “No president from either party in recent memory has made a recess appointment when Congress is not truly in recess.”
Last month, the U.S. Senate voted down the nomination of Obama’s pick, Richard Cordray. The Obama move was in total disregard of the constitution, said Landry, who vowed to introduce legislation to prevent Cordray’s appointment from going forward.
Landry has been the chief advocate for holding the pro forma sessions in the House and Senate to prevent recess appointments.
“The Constitution is clear: the President can appoint officials ‘with advice and consent of the Senate,’ ” Landry said in a statement.
Since the Senate shot down the appointment and the chambers have technically been in session, Landry said “the president’s appointment of Cordray can only be considered an abuse of the recess appointment process.”
Help for dredging bill sought
Two U.S. House delegation members are trying to nudge the Obama administration and a House committee to move on legislation that would aid in the dredging of ports and harbors.
U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, organized a letter signed by 81 fellow members urging Obama Budget Director Jack Lew to include money for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, called HMTF, in next year’s budget.
The U.S. Congress established the Harbor Maintenance Tax and the HMTF in 1986 to fund dredging and maintenance of federal ports and harbors. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the tax raised $1.3 billion in revenues in 2011 yet only $790 million was spent.
The HMTF began last year with over $6.3 billion and could swell to $20 billion by 2012. Boustanyhas introduced legislation called the RAMP Act that would utilize all of the fund dollars for dredging.
“Year after year of insufficient maintenance dredging of coastal and inland ports has resulted in reduced depths at the majority of large port facilities and all but ignored the dredging needs of moderately sized ports,” the letter said.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, joined with 22 colleagues in a letter to the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to move the RAMP Act to the full House for a vote.
“Our river systems are vital to the local, regional and national economy and the RAMP Act will ensure that our ports and harbors receive prioritized federal funding they need to continue operating safely and efficiently,” Scalise said in a statement.
Boustany seeks interns
The office of U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, is accepting applications for summer internships in his Washington, D.C., office.
Interns perform a variety of tasks including legislative research, attending congressional hearings, assisting with press communications and interacting with constituents.
There are two summer sessions for the internships and each session is about five weeks long. Interested students and recent graduates should submit a cover letter explaining their interest and a résumé before Feb. 15 to Jeff Dobrozsi at email@example.com with the subject “DC intern.”
Questions should be directed to the Washington, D.C., office at (202) 225-2031.
“Internships are an excellent opportunity for young adults to learn about our state, our country and political process,” Boustany said in a statement.
Compiled by Gerard Shields, chief of The Advocate’s Washington bureau. His email address is GerardShields@aol.com.