The senate has never technically adjourned since they left town right before Christmas. This has been a Republican ploy to prevent President Obama from appointing Richard Cordray as head of the new Consumer Financial protection Bureau during a formal recess. The GOP wants changes made to the structure of the Bureau which promises to generate a nightmare of red tape and legal exposure for financial services firms and consumers alike.
Despite the senate's non-recess, Obama - as has been his wont - is ingoring the rules and will try to appoint Cordray anyway.
Wall Street Journal:
Senate Republicans have tried to prevent the White House from acting by keeping the Senate technically in "pro forma" session until senators return to Washington later this month.
One way around the GOP maneuvering would have been for the White House to appoint Mr. Cordray during the short window in between congressional sessions. That window was open Tuesday morning, and some expected Mr. Obama to act then. But he didn't, and administration officials maintained that they still have all options on the table.
That's because the White House has concluded that it can make the appointment even if the Senate has not formally recessed, said one Democrat familiar with White House thinking. "They have decided no one can stop them."
Installing Mr. Cordray without Senate confirmation would inflame already high partisan tensions, and could make relations between the branches of government even more contentious. But White House aides have made clear they don't expect much action from Congress this year. Mr. Obama does need Congress to extend a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits that expire in March, though administration officials have said they believe the president holds the upper hand politically in that fight, and expect Republicans to go along.
Mr. Obama has made 28 recess appointments but none over the past year.
I'm not exactly sure how the White House can do this - except they seem to get away with stuff like this on a regular basis simply by declaring themselves above the rules.
Is this one more indication of the dysfunction of our politics? Or is it emblematic of an administration who flouts the law in order to achieve its goals?