October 8, 1985
The President is deeply displeased that 70 key appointments touching virtually every area of the executive branch are being deliberately held up by Senate Democratic Leader Robert Byrd. These are Assistant Secretaries, Ambassadors, Federal circuit and district judges, and members of important agencies, commissions, and boards. Over 5,000 midlevel career military personnel alone are being denied promotions and pay raises. It is the largest backlog of Presidential appointments in modern history.
Senator Byrd has decided to block these and other nominations because of what he terms his ``deep concern'' about the seven recess appointments made last August. The President's power to make recess appointments is grounded in the Constitution, and this issue was decided long ago. George Washington made three recess appointments between the sessions of the First Congress. President Carter made 17 direct appointments during temporary Senate breaks, including a Cabinet member. Fifteen recess appointments have been made to the United States Supreme Court, including one sitting Justice.
President Reagan did not evade the Senate's power to confirm. The individuals he appointed had already been nominated before the recent Senate recess. The Senate just hadn't acted on the nominations. And those appointees were renominated when the Senate returned. The Constitution speaks without equivocation on the power and right of the President to make recess appointments. The courts have held the President has the power, and history dating to the first President confirms it. These individuals stand ready to serve.
The President respectfully requests Senator Byrd's cooperation in freeing up his nominations without further delay.
Note: Larry M. Speakes read the statement to reporters at 12:22 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.