Saturday, July 01, 2006

Recess Appointment For Stickler?

Mine Safety and Health News (subscription required) reports that President Bush's controversial nominee to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration has been given an office at the Department of Labor and was being briefed last Friday. This may indicate that Bush is about to give Stickler a recess appointment now that Congress has gone away for the July 4 vacation.

If true, this would violate an agreement made by Republicans and Democrats last month when Senate Republicans cancelled a vote on Stickler's nomination because they didn't have the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Because unanimous consent is needed in order to cancel a planned vote, Democrats forced an agreement that if the President was going to give Stickler a recess appointment, a vote would be taken first.

The President is allowed to "recess appoint" nominees when the Senate is out of session. Bush has used this tactic numerious times to appoint controversial nominees who can't get Senate approval.

Most of Stickler's career was spent as a mine industry manager where the mines he managed had injury rates that were double the national average, according to government data assembled by the United Mineworkers. And while serving as Pennsylvania’s director of the Bureau of Deep Mine Safety, his role in not preventing the Quecreek mine near-disaster has been told. Stickler made an equally unimpressive impression at his confirmation hearing. His appearance was less than dynamic, to put it mildly. Stickler told the senators that current mine safety laws are “adequate” and revealed no sign that he would be the kind of forceful advocate for mine safety that this nation needs.

More stories on recent mine disasters here.