These came as a real shock even to the labor-watching community. What makes them so unusual, above and beyond the Cordray appointment, is that the president only submitted the names to the Senate on December 15. As far as I am aware — and I could be wrong — the names were never put to a cloture vote of any sort. If that is the case, then the president has bull-rushed the Senate. He has no excuse that the Senate is filibustering these nominations. The Senate is entitled to take its time in considering such appointments.
Regardless of the validity or not of deeming a three-day break a “recess” — which ignores Congress’s prerogative to manage its own affairs, and raises the specter of the president someday making an appointment during a bathroom break — this is on its face an extraordinary abuse of process.