Obama first nominated James Cole to the No. 2 Justice Department post in May. But Republican lawmakers blocked his confirmation in part because of questions about his role as an independent consultant for AIG before its near collapse and government bailout in 2008. Senate Republicans complained that confidentiality agreements prevented them from receiving answers about his work for the company.
Cole is a close friend of Attorney General Eric Holder and a partner at a private Washington law firm. His appointment is one of six Obama announced from his vacation in Hawaii, including ambassadors to Turkey and Syria.
Both Republican and Democratic presidents have made recess appointments, which circumvents the Senate's authority to confirm nominees, when they could not overcome delays in the Senate. President George W. Bush made more than 170 such appointments in his two-term presidency. President Bill Clinton made nearly 140.
Obama has made 28 recess appointments this year. The White House said Bush had made 23 at this point in his presidency.
Obama has often warned that he is willing to turn to recess appointments to overcome Republican opposition. The White House said the appointees he named Wednesday had their nominations pending for an average of five months.
Several ambassadors to former Soviet republics and Middle Eastern countries were appointed last night. It's hard to imagine why Republicans would sit on vital ambassadorial confirmations like that, but then again Democrats did delay many of Bush's appointments as well.
It's one of the valid "both sides do it" situations out there. You would think some sort of Senate reform on the filibuster and secret holds would be welcomed by both sides, but you'd be wrong.