Once again bypassing a gridlocked Senate, President Barack Obama acted Thursday to install three agency officials and a diplomat whose nominations had stalled amid election-year squabbling.
In a statement released shortly after he arrived here for vacation, Obama said the partisanship left him no choice but to resort to what's called a "recess appointment". He said Americans deserve better.
"At a time when our nation faces so many pressing challenges, I urge members of the Senate to stop playing politics with our highly qualified nominees, and fulfill their responsibilities of advice and consent," Obama said. "Until they do, I reserve the right to act within my authority to do what is best for the American people."
The move reflected Obama's increasing frustration with the scores of judicial and other nominees awaiting confirmation votes.
Last month, he installed Dr. Donald Berwick, a Harvard professor and patient care specialist, as head of the agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid. Furious Republicans accused him of arrogance and seeking to avoid embarrassment at hearings that would have exposed flaws in his health care overhaul.
Like Berwick, the four nominees Obama acted on Thursday will be able to serve until the end of next year.
—Winslow Sargeant will be chief counsel of advocacy for the Small Business Administration. The White House said he had been waiting over 14 months for Senate action.
—Richard Sorian will serve as assistant secretary for public affairs at the Health and Human Services Department. He had been waiting more than 11 months since Obama nominated him.
—Maria del Carmen Aponte will be chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador. She'd been waiting more than eight months.
—Elisabeth Hagen will be undersecretary for food safety at the Agriculture Department. Her wait was nearly seven months.
Republicans countered that Sorien and Hagen won committee approval at the end of June, so when the Senate went on its recess, they'd been waiting just a month for floor action.
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