One of the rationales oft heard for Obama’s recent “recess” appointments is that the Senate is not “doing its job” or that Republicans have blocked his nominees and that our government “cannot function.” Putting aside the absurdity of the argument that somehow if Congress fails to “do its job” that empowers the President to take over its job, the simple fact is that the vast majority of Obama nominations have actually been confirmed by the Senate.
Between January 5, 2011, the beginning of the 1st session of the 112th Congress, and December 30,2011, the Senate received 20,517 nominations from the Obama Administration. Of those, 19,815 were confirmed by the Senate, which rounds up to 97 percent. And this ignores the fact that some nominations, like those to the National Labor Relations Board, were not received until December, hardly giving the Senate any time to consider and confirm said nominations.
One can argue that not all nominations are equal. For instance the majority of nominations are military positions. You can decide for yourself whether a general or admiral is equal to an assistant secretary or bureau director. If one wants to produce a “quality-adjusted” nominations index, they are free to do so. None of this changes the basic fact: President Obama has had the majority of his nominations confirmed by the Senate. Claims to the contrary are simply false.