President Obama is taking advantage of the Congressional recess to appoint Elisabeth Hagen, to be Under Secretary for Food Safety in the Department of Agriculture. Presently serving as an advisor to USDA mission areas on a wide range of human health issues, Dr. Hagen was previously a senior executive in USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.
"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," President Obama said. "Until they do, I reserve the right to act within my authority to do what is best for the American people. Dr. Hagen is one of four nominees who have waited a total of 303 days for Senate Confirmation."
A recess appointment is the appointment, by the President of the United States, of a senior federal official while the Senate is in recess. The U.S. Constitution requires that the most senior federal officers must normally be confirmed by the Senate before assuming office. However while the U.S. Senate is in recess the President can act alone by making a recess appointment. To remain in effect a recess appointment must be approved by the Senate by the end of the next session of Congress, or the position becomes vacant again.