Officials in the Bush Administration confided to the Associated Press that President Bush may act to appoint Eugene Scalia and Otto Reich to their respective posts in the Department of Labor and the State Department during Congress’ recess. The U.S. Senate has not confirmed either nomination, but by law, the President can avoid the Senate confirmation process by making a temporary “recess appointment,” allowing Scalia and Reich to occupy their posts until the end of 2003. The Senate could act to foil any temporary appointment by refusing to recess at the end of December.
Scalia, the son of reactionary Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, has been nominated Solicitor of Labor, the third-ranking official at the Department. As a Washington labor lawyer, Scalia championed causes to benefit employers instead of workers. Critics of the Scalia argue that his views on labor rights are far out of the mainstream, especially his positions on sexual harassment laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act, ergonomics, and unionization. They doubt that Scalia would be able to fairly enforce workers rights and advise the Labor Department on its policy initiatives.
Reich has been nominated to be Secretary of Western Hemisphere Affairs. A former State Department official in the Regan Administration, Reich has been criticized for his alleged role in a scandal involving a covert campaign against Nicaragua’s Sandinistas and in support of the Contras.