This is a corrected version of an earlier post. A correction is embedded in the story text below.
WASHINGTON – Despite weeks of speculation and lobbying by consumer groups, there will be no recess appointment of former Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren to head the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
That's because, technically, there will be no recess.
Through parliamentary maneuvering this week, Republicans were able to prevent the Senate from officially shutting down during its Memorial Day vacation next week. During the so-called "pro-forma'' session during vacation, President Obama will not have the power to circumvent Senate confirmation proceedings and make appointments to key posts.
Warren (who also has been mentioned as a possible challenger to Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts) is highly unlikely to win Senate confirmation to the consumer bureau post because of heavy GOP opposition. Consumer advocates have been calling on Obama to name her in a recess appointment, but he has given no sign that he would.
Warren has been building the CFPB since shortly after it was approved with passage of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation overhaul last year. The agency, which will have authority to regulate consumer credit and protect debtors from predatory practices, is supposed to begin operations in July.
Mid-week, as part of their parliamentary maneuver, 20 GOP senators wrote to House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio asking him to block the Senate from adjourning, citing the need to thwart recess appointments. Without agreement from the House, the Senate can’t adjourn for more than three days, and vice versa.
In addition, Senator Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican, said he would object to the Senate adjourning without passing a budget. His letter made no mention of recess appointments. Nearly every GOP Senator signed on. Correction: An earlier version of this posting incorrectly stated that all GOP senators had signed on to the Sessions letter.
During the so-called "pro-forma'' session during the Memorial Day vacation, one or two senators will show up each morning, gavel in a session, and then leave. This morning, Democratic Senator Mark Begich of Alaska presided over the chamber for all of 29 seconds.
Typically, senators in neighboring states such as Maryland and Virginia preside during a pro-forma session. Most of the other senators went home this week – all but Begich. One senate aide joked that maybe Begich ended up in the president’s seat this morning because he missed the last flight to Alaska.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.