President Obama has used his power to make recess appointments to fill six vacant positions, including the appointment of James Cole, a friend of Attorney General Eric Holder, whose nomination has been held up by Republicans over Cole's views on the Sept. 11 attacks. The constitutional power to make recess appointments dates back to the early days of the United States, when the Senate could recess for many months, and the president needed the power to fill critical posts until the Senate reconvened -- but the new Congress, the 112th, convenes in just a week, on Jan. 5.
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