By Carole on Jul 7, 2010
Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana), one of President Barack Obama's point men in the health care reform debate, is the first Democrat to publicly criticize the president for his recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick to oversee Medicare and Medicaid. Calling Senate confirmation of presidential appointees "an essential process prescribed by the Constitution," the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said he was "troubled" that Mr. Obama chose to bypass the legislative branch of government.
In a statement announcing the recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick, President Obama attempted to blame Republicans for his decision saying, ""It's unfortunate that at a time when our nation is facing enormous challenges, many in Congress have decided to delay critical nominations for political purposes." But according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), "Democrats haven't scheduled so much as a committee hearing for Donald Berwick but the mere possibility of allowing the American people the opportunity to hear what he intends to do with their health care is evidently reason enough for this administration to sneak him through without public scrutiny." (source)
It can be difficult to see through all the political posturing and finger pointing on this issue. But Senator Baucus's statement today goes a long way toward clarifying whether Mr. Obama or Mr. McConnell is being honest with the American people. According to that statement, "I'm troubled that, rather than going through the standard nomination process, Dr. Berwick was recess appointed. Senate confirmation of presidential appointees is an essential process prescribed by the Constitution that serves as a check on executive power and protects Montanans and all Americans by ensuring that crucial questions are asked of the nominee - and answered. (source)
A Democratic Senator advocating a check on executive power during the Obama administration? Amazing but true.
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