WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama announced his intention to recess-appoint Elisabeth Hagen as Undersecretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The appointment comes as Congress prepares to debate food-safety legislation that would expand the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to regulate the nation's food supply.

“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,” Mr. Obama said. “Until they do, I reserve the right to act within my authority to do what is best for the American people.”

Dr. Hagen, who is currently the U.S.D.A.’s chief medical officer, has been “instrumental in building relationships and fostering coordination with food safety and public health partners at the federal, state, and local level,” Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama also announced he would recess-appoint Richard Sorian as assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.