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Recess Appointment

A recess appointment is a presidential appointment typically requiring Senate approval that is made during a Senate recess.

To be confirmed, the appointment must be approved by the Senate by the end of the next session of Congress or the position becomes vacant again.

Recess appointments are authorized by Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution and they allow the president to make appointments when the Senate was adjourned for lengthy periods.

More recently, however, the president has used the privilege to push through unpopular candidates.

For example, during his second term, President Bush appointed several controversial candidates while the Senate was in recess. 

In 2007, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, retaliated by holding pro forma sessions during Senate recesses.

As a result, the Bush administration was unable to make further recess appointments.

Use of “Recess Appointment” in a sentence

  • The President made a recess appointment to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat, bypassing the typical Senate confirmation process.
  • Critics argue that the President’s use of a recess appointment to install the new Secretary of Defense undermines the checks and balances system.
  • Due to the Senate’s adjournment, the President seized the opportunity to make a recess appointment, ensuring the federal agency wouldn’t be left without a director.