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Obama agenda: Recess time!

“President Obama will bypass Congress and appoint Dr. Donald M. Berwick, a health policy expert, to run Medicare and Medicaid, the White House said Tuesday,” the New York Times writes. “As a recess appointee, Dr. Berwick will have all the powers of a permanent appointee. But under the Constitution, his appointment will expire at the end of the next session of Congress, in late 2011.”

More: “The recess appointment was somewhat unusual because the Senate is in recess for less than two weeks and senators were still waiting for Dr. Berwick to submit responses to some of their requests for information. No confirmation hearing has been held or scheduled. Although hospital executives who have worked with Dr. Berwick describe him as a visionary, inspiring leader, he would have faced a long, difficult struggle to win Senate confirmation.”

The White House announced the recess appointment news on its blog: “Many Republicans in Congress have made it clear in recent weeks that they were going to stall the nomination as long as they could, solely to score political points. But with the agency facing new responsibilities to protect seniors’ care under the Affordable Care Act, there’s no time to waste with Washington game-playing.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell responded in a statement: “Democrats haven't scheduled so much as a committee hearing for Donald Berwick but the mere possibility of allowing the American people the opportunity to hear what he intends to do with their health care is evidently reason enough for this Administration to sneak him through without public scrutiny.”

The AP on President Obama's meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "Eager to show unity to the world, President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel dismissed talk of a rift yesterday as wildly unfounded, and Netanyahu pledged concrete, 'very robust' steps to revive sluggish Mideast peace efforts with the Palestinians. In a warm, yet carefully choreographed White House embrace, the two leaders took pains to convince allies and enemies alike that a deeply important relationship is doing just fine."

And here’s the AP on the Justice Department’s lawsuit yesterday: "The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's new law targeting illegal immigrants, setting the stage for a clash between the federal government and the state over the nation's toughest immigration crackdown.”