The President yesterday made 17 recess appointments to positions requiring Senate approval, which gets the people into office until the Senate can meet.
In other words, the White House knows or has reason to believe that the Senate would not confirm, or would in some other way obstruct, these appointments. So the President just put them into office, where they stay until the Senate can hold confirmation hearings. This gives the Senate the opportunity to allow the appointments to stand without actually having the kind of "up-or-down vote" that the Republicans continually demand—the kind they refused to give more than 100 of Clinton's judicial nominees.
The Washington Post (reg.req.) reports:
President Bush yesterday made a raft of controversial recess appointments, including Julie L. Myers to head the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau at the Department of Homeland Security, in a maneuver circumventing the need for approval by the Senate.
Myers, a niece of former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Richard B. Myers and the wife of the chief of staff to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, had been criticized by Republicans and Democrats who charged that she lacked experience in immigration matters.
Chertoff's chief of staff's wife? Well, I did make my wife my corporate counsel, but the confirmation process didn't involve the U.S. Senate or 50 million voters...