President Barack Obama (D) recently announced his intention to “recess appoint” Elisabeth Hagen as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) under secretary for food safety. According to a White House press release, Hagen is among four key administrative nominees who have waited an average of 303 days for Senate confirmation. Obama said he chose to appoint all the nominees while Congress was away on its August recess in accordance with his “authority to do what is best for the American people. 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.”  

Hagen is currently the USDA’s chief medical officer and senior executive within USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack was quoted as saying that Hagen’s background “will enable her to successfully lead the effort to develop and execute the agency’s scientific and public health agenda, and continue to build the coordination with public health partners at federal, state, and local level[s] needed to achieve the objectives of President Obama’s Food Safety Working Group.” See White House Press Release and USDA Press Release, August 19, 2010.