Republicans maintain Obama overstepped his authority when he appointed Richard Cordray to lead the consumer watchdog and three members to join the National Labor Relations Board, contending Congress was not in recess when Obama made the appointments Jan. 4. But the Obama administration -- through the Justice Department -- contended the Senate met in pro forma sessions and not to conduct legislative business, so Obama could make the appointments.
"We the undersigned believe that President Obama's Jan. 4, 2012 recess appointments of individuals to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and National Labor Relations Board were unprecedented and unconstitutional," the letter signed by 39 Senate Republicans read. "We intend jointly to file an amicus brief challenging the constitutionality of President Obama's appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."
Senate Republicans successfully blocked the appointments during the confirmation process.
The letter, which wasn't addressed to anyone, didn't say which challenge it would join through its friend-of-the-court brief. Politico said one possibility is a Jan. 13 action by the National Federation for Independent Business and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which argues the NLRB appointments are unconstitutional.
Republican senators who did not sign the letter were Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Dean Heller of Nevada, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Richard Shelby of Alabama, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Roger Wicker of Mississippi. Kirk is recovering from a stroke in Chicago.