Recess appointments are constitutionally permissible and sometimes necessary as a matter of procedure. The privilege was originally conceived when members of Congress frequently adjourned for several months at a time and traveled multiple days to and from their home states and districts – which is hardly the case these days.
President Obama’s appointment of Don Berwick, however, simply doesn’t pass the smell test. The administration and Congressional Democrats knew Berwick (a self-proclaimed fan of the British health system) didn’t stand a chance at confirmation by the full Senate.
The role of CMS Administrator is one of the most important (and perhaps undervalued) in Washington. Enactment of the still controversial health care law – under which the CMS Administrator will oversee tens of billions of dollars of changes to Medicare and Medicaid – elevated the position to one of unprecedented importance. As inflated cost numbers continue to trickle out for Obamacare, the Berwick “appointment” proves that bad politics generally makes bad policy.
The absence of a CMS administrator during the legislative push for health care bill was, at best, procedural negligence by the Obama administration. The “end around” appointment of a CMS candidate unlikely to win senatorial approval approaches malpractice.
Cameron Lynch is a former aide to three Republican Senators and president of The Lynch Group, LLC, a Republican government affairs and political consulting firm.