Nel's New Day

July 23, 2011

Conservatives Block Obama’s Appointments

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:26 PM

As if there isn’t enough chaos while Republicans block the raising of the debt ceiling and FAA’s operating authority, they also insist on dragging their feet over having a director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Although there was broad bipartisan acceptance of President Obama’s decision to keep Robert Mueller III as FBI director for another two years past his ten-year term, Senate Republicans keep causing trouble. First, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) objected on constitutional grounds and wanted Obama to nominate him for a special new term so that the Senate could work through their confirmation process. Obama did that.

Then Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) invoked a senate member’s right to block a vote, refusing to lift this block until he personally met with Mueller. After the meeting, during which he asked questions that had already been answered ad infinitum, he said that he would lift the block. The Senate actually voted on the two-year term extension last Thursday; the vote now goes to the House. But this vote doesn’t confirm Mueller; the bill just says it’s okay to confirm. Then the senate has to go through the confirmation process.

Mueller was appointed by a Republican president. With leadership changes for both the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency, stability at the FBI would be a bonus. Paul is known for grandstanding: he blocked the vote on reauthorizing the Patriot Act until hours before they were to expire. (Although that may have been a good thing!) Because Obama was not in the country when Congress finally passed that bill, he had to “sign” the bill into law by directing an aide to run his signature through a White House autopen machine, causing more criticisms from anti-Obama folk.

Technically Mueller’s term ends on September 3, but a legal team has determined that his last day without a term extension is August 2 because George W. Bush signed his appointment on Aug. 3, 2011. August 2 seems to be a busy day for endings—like the debt ceiling. By that time, the House has to take two votes on Mueller and the Senate needs another one vote unless they can’t agree and toss the bill back and forth.

Mueller’s appointment is only one of many nominees that the Republicans block or ignore or reject because they’re waiting to get a Republican president. They’re not even subtle about this reason; some of the senators have openly stated this.

Republicans have continually fought the possibility of Elizabeth Warren as chair of the Consumers Financial Protection Bureau although, to be honest, they declared that they would not confirm anyone until all the agency’s power was removed. (Obama has now made another nomination for that position; we can take bets on how months it takes for the senate to drive him away.)

A group of 44 senators has also promised to block any commerce secretary or other trade official until they have free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia. “Creating jobs,” nominee John Bryson said in a hearing, “will be my relentless focus” as Commerce secretary. Evidently Republicans aren’t interested in creating jobs.

Republican senators use confirmations as blackmail. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), the man who illegally procured prostitutes before he got caught and then elected to another term, blocked a vote on the head of the Fish and Wildlife Service until the government granted 15 deepwater drilling permits. He got them. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) blocked the nominee until the Interior Department backed down on its order to identify and protect swaths of land with wilderness characteristics. That happened. Then Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) wanted a review of the protected status of wolves before he would lft his block. After a seven-month wait, Dan Ashe was confirmed on July 4. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) blocked the nominee for the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Last year’s nominee failed Senate confirmation, so President Obama nominated a new person this year.

Unfilled judge positions are just as bad if not worse. Nearly one in seven judgeships is unoccupied, and more than a third of those vacancies are considered judicial emergencies–which means that criminal defendants, who are normally guaranteed a trial within 70 days, wait up to six months. Only 62 percent of his choices for district judge have been confirmed, compared to 74 percent of George W. Bush’s and 86 percent of Bill Clinton’s. There are currently 57 pending appointments in the Senate leaving 36% of the vacant posts without an appointment. So far this year there have been 29 confirmations.

Republicans blame Obama because he’s made appointments for fewer than half of the existing vacancies. They say they can’t confirm nominees who haven’t been chosen. It seems that they also can’t confirm nominees who have been chosen. It’s no wonder that Washington is totally dysfunctional.

1 Comment »

  1. Wow. So blatant. So very wrong, using democratic government against their own country.


    Comment by Lee Lynch — July 23, 2011 @ 11:19 PM | Reply

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