WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats made a rare move Friday to block President Bush from making any recess appointments by technically keeping the Senate in session over its two-week Thanksgiving break.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a statement saying the White House has told him it planned on making "several" recess appointments — generally frowned upon by lawmakers who balk when their "advise and consent" role is circumvented.
Reid also said that the White house has stalled on Reid's requests for appointments to certain boards that require bipartisan splits such as the Federal Communications Committee, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and others.
"My hope is that this will prompt the President to see that it is our mutual interests for the nominations process to get back on track," Reid said.
"The President has a statutory obligation to honor my recommendations and move on them in good faith," Reid added.
Saying he acted in good faith to move on some 40 administration nominees, as well as the confirmation of Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Reid said Bush has not held up his end of the bargain, especially since the August congressional break. Reid said no Democratic nominees have been sent to the Senate since then.
"For some, in fact, absolutely no discernable progress has been made," Reid said.
Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., formally set in motion the procedures that will keep the Senate open. Hours later, the White House issued a statement pointing to the Senate's failure to act on a number of judicial nominees, including a statement by Bush on Thursday adding seven more judges to his list of judges he hopes to confirm.
"I look forward to working with the United States Senate to confirm these good men and women as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the Senate has failed to act on many of my other nominees. … This leads to what are called 'judicial emergencies' — vacancies that cause justice to be degraded or delayed," Bush said.
The White House said the 11 circuit judges await confirmation, and another six the administration has labeled as "judicial emergencies" are stalled in the Judiciary Committee. The White House also pointed out that while the current Senate has held nomination hearings for four circuit court nominees, the previous Senate had held 10 by the end of its first year.
The Democrats' action appears to be in response to earlier recess appointments by Bush that had been heavily opposed by Democrats, including U.S. ambassador to Belgium Sam Fox, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Charles Pickering, and DEA chief Julie Myers.
Fox, a political fundraiser, caught Democrats' ire when they learned he had contributed to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group that bought ads attacking 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.
Bolton was opposed as a firebrand manager. When the Senate still would not confirm him in 2006, after his first recess appointment expired, the administration considered keeping him on until they realized Bolton could not be paid under federal law.
'The same fate is likely to meet Myers, who likely sunk her confirmation at a Department of Homeland Security Halloween party in which she handed out a "best costume" award to an employee who dressed in what was later criticized as a racially insensitive costume.
FOX News' Trish Turner contributed to this report.