VINEYARD HAVEN, Massachusetts (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Thursday made four recess job appointments to his administration, including a new U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, postponing the need for Senate approval.
Recess appointments, which have been made by presidents of both parties, allow a president to temporarily bypass the Senate confirmation process required for senior federal posts by filling vacant positions while lawmakers are on vacation.
Obama appointed Maria del Carmen Aponte, who has faced Republican opposition in the Senate, as ambassador to El Salvador.
During her March Senate confirmation hearing, Aponte was questioned about a former romantic relationship with a Cuban national she lived with in the 1980s who was linked to Cuban intelligence officials, according to the Washington Post.
Aponte denied having contact with Cuban intelligence officials, the Post reported.
“At a time when our nation faces so many pressing challenges, I urge members of the Senate to stop playing politics with our highly qualified nominees, and fulfill their responsibilities of advice and consent,” Obama said.
“Until they do, I reserve the right to act within my authority to do what is best for the American people,” he said in a statement issued shortly after the president and first family began their summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, a small island off the coast of Massachusetts.
Obama’s other three recess appointments were: Elisabeth Hagen as undersecretary for food safety at the Department of Agriculture; Winslow Sargeant as chief counsel of advocacy at the Small Business Administration; and Richard Sorian as assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.
The White House said the four appointees had waited an average of 303 days for Senate confirmation.
Obama’s Democratic Party lost its 60 seat Senate majority in January, costing it the votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles by Republicans.
Reporting by Alister Bull, editing by Will Dunham