President Obama has used recess appointments in the past to get controversial nominees into the positions he chose for them. So the Republicans employed a little used legislative gambit to block the president's expected recess appointment of Elizabeth Warren to head up the new Consumer Finance Protection Board.
GOP opposition is preventing the Senate from completely adjourning for the Memorial Day recess. Instead, the chamber will come in for three pro-forma sessions over the next 10 days.
The cursory sessions are a formality that will ensure President Obama does not make recess appointments, a prospect that was considered unlikely anyway because the recess is scheduled for only a week.
Some Republicans feared that Obama would use the recess to appoint Elizabeth Warren to head the controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which will have broad powers over Wall Street.
To avoid the cumbersome process of holding a vote on the adjournment resolution, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) opted for the compromise of holding pro-forma meetings next week, GOP sources say.
Warren would be a catastrophe heading up the board. The rules are already rigged to criminalize actions by financial service companies if a consumer loses money on a complicated mortgage or financial instrument. In effect, brokers and mortgage consultants would be at the mercy of people who might be too inexperienced or too lazy to read the fine print in their financial products they buy. Warren gets to choose the board members who would rule on those instances and it is expected that she would give consumers the benefit of the doubt more often than not.
She doesn't have the votes in the senate for confirmation so as long as the GOP can keep the pro-forma sessions going, she will be barred from serving in that sensitive position.