Bush Reappoints Medicare Trustees
President Bush on Wednesday "recess appointed" John Palmer and Thomas Saving as public trustees on the Medicare and Social Security board of trustees and ended a dispute with the Senate over their reappointment to the positions, Dow Jones reports (Watts, Dow Jones, 4/19).
Palmer, a former dean of the
In November 2005, Bush nominated Palmer and Saving for second four-year terms, but the Senate has not held confirmation hearings on the nominations. Senate leaders of both parties have said that they prefer to follow the precedent of no more than one term for public trustees.
The lack of confirmation of the nominations has resulted in the delay of the Medicare and Social Security financial reports for 2006 (California Healthline, 4/4).
The U.S. Constitution allows the president to make temporary appointments to "fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate" (Pear, New York Times, 4/20). The Senate will reconvene next week after a two-week Easter recess (Dow Jones, 4/19).
Under the Constitution, Palmer and Saving can serve as public trustees until the end of the next Senate session in late 2007.
Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said, "Now that the impasse is cleared, I hope the White House will nominate new people, so we can return to the goal of having fresh faces on the board."
and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) added, "The White House has failed to consult in good faith with Congress on new nominees for these positions. Public trustees for Social Security and Medicare have never served more than one term. It is vital to have new blood and fresh thinking for these programs so critical to all Americans."
According to the Times, the recess appointments will allow the Bush administration to issue the Medicare and Social Security financial reports for 2006, which likely will include information on the cost of the prescription drug benefit and the sustainability of Medicare over the long term (New York Times, 4/20).