Today, President Obama announced that he was using his authority to make recess appointments of four nominees on whom the Senate has not taken action to confirm for their positions. One of the four, Richard Sorian, is an out gay man who served in the Clinton administration previously and has worked on HIV/AIDS, among other, issues.
Sorian was nominated to serve as the assistant secretary for public affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services. The Obama administration announced his nomination on October 2, 2009.
In the White House release announcing the four appointments, Obama said, "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. Until they do, I reserve the right to act within my authority to do what is best for the American people."
In Sorian's case, hearings were held in the Senate Finance Committee on May 26 and his nomination was reported favorably out of the committee without opposition on June 30.
Ed O'Keefe at The Washington Post has more on the other recess appointments.
The White House press office provided the following biography of Sorian:
Richard Sorian is currently a Senior Adviser to the Secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services. Previously, he was Vice President for Public Policy and External Relations for the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), where he directed the organization’s media relations, policy development and advocacy, and relations with employers, consumers, and other key stakeholders. Before working for NCQA, Sorian was Director of Public Affairs for the Center for Studying Health System Change and a Project Director at the Georgetown University Institute for Health Care Research and Policy. From 1993 to 1998, Sorian was a Senior Advisor for Health Policy Communications in the Office of Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna E. Shalala. In that capacity, Sorian focused on health care reform, HIV/AIDS policy, and health care quality improvement. From 1997 to 1998, he served as Deputy Director of the President’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry, where he directed work on the Patient’s Bill of Rights. From 1980 to 1993, Sorian was an award-winning journalist covering U.S. health care policy development. He was editor of Medicine & Health and the Journal of American Health Policy. He is also the author of three books: The Bitter Pill: Tough Choice in America’s Health Policy (1989); A New Deal for American Health Care (1993); and The Health Care 500 (1988). He is a graduate of George Washington University and, in 1989, was awarded a Fellowship for Advanced Studies in Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health.