The Republicans in Congress really just don’t want to do anything to help our government work to solve problems for people. They;d rather kill the country than see Obama (a fairly conservative President by any measure) re-elected. Here is just one more little bit of evidence:
WASHINGTON — Freshman Rep. Jeff Denham, a Republican from Atwater, Calif., will briefly sit in a very special chair Tuesday for a several-minute skirmish in a long-running war.
By presiding over a ridiculously short House session, Denham is helping his fellow Republicans block President Barack Obama from making appointments while Congress is in recess. […]
The whole maneuver won’t take long. The House wrapped up its Aug. 19 session in under seven minutes. On Aug. 16, the Congressional Record shows, the House session lasted four minutes.
“It could last four minutes,” Denham’s press secretary, Allie Brandenburger, said Monday, “but those four minutes are critical for the next four years. … Rep. Denham believes we must do all we can to stop these recess appointments.”
All this to stop Obama from making recess appointments, But didn’t other Congresses stop Presidents from making recess appointments. Not like the Republicans have:
President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, made 139 recess appointments during his eight years in office, according to the Congressional Research Service. President George W. Bush, a Republican, made 171 recess appointments.
Bush, for instance, used his recess appointment powers to name a member of the Federal Election Commission, a deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration and an ambassador to the United Nations.
“This post is too important to leave vacant any longer,” Bush said in August 2005, when he named John Bolton to the U.N. post.
In March 2010, Obama named 15 recess appointments, including a member of the National Labor Relations Board who was being blocked by Senate Republicans. Obama noted that the appointees, who included California’s former secretary of education, Alan Bersin, had been waiting an average of 214 days for their confirmation votes.
Whatever it takes to make people suffer more and the government run worse while Obama is President, the Republicans will do. Bet on it.
This week, Peter Diamond withdrew his nomination to serve on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Though he was a recent recipient of a Nobel Prize in economics, Republicans in the Senate blocked Diamond’s nomination because he was “an old-fashioned, big government Keynesian,” in the words of Senator Richard Shelby. A few weeks ago, Goodwin Liu withdrew his nomination to a federal appeals court after Republican senators refused him a vote, possibly because he testified for Democrats during the Samuel Alito confirmation hearings.
This is part of a larger confirmation crisis in the Senate: Republicans have blocked 223 of President Obama’s 1,132 executive and judicial appointees—over 20 percent. Republican senators have enforced a strict sixty-vote threshold for most nominations, and sometimes holds are placed on nominees anyhow. This hobbles crucial federal agencies and is yet another successful prong of the Republican war against effective government.
The times they are a changing. Check below the fold for critical appointments the Republicans are holding up:
(1) Jim Cole is already serving in the No. 2 spot at the Department of Justice after President Obama gave him a recess appointment last year, because Senate Republicans held up his nomination. He can serve only through the end of this calendar year, however, and last month Senate majority leader Harry Reid tried once again to confirm Cole permanently. He came up eleven votes short, with every Republican except Senator Richard Lugar voting against confirmation. Cole’s sin, according to Republican senators, is that he supports all available tools for prosecuting terrorists—including federal trials.
(2) After months of lockstep Republican opposition in the Senate, Joseph Smith withdrew his nomination to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency in January. FHFA oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Obama has not named another appointment following Smith’s withdrawal. According to the Wall Street Journal, Republicans opposed the nomination because they “feared Mr. Smith would heighten pressure on Fannie and Freddie to slash mortgage balances for troubled homeowners.”
(3) The US Fish and Wildlife Service has no permanent director, though Obama nominated Dan Ashe to lead the bureau months ago. But Sen. David Vitter put a hold on Ashe and said he’d keep it there until the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement issued fifteen offshore oil drilling permits. (BOEMRE, like Fish and Wildlife, is overseen by the Interior Department). The fifteenth permit was issued last week and Vitter withdrew his hold—but Senator Mike Lee is going to place a hold on Ashe over the Interior Department’s “wild lands” policy, which protects unused land from energy exploration.
(4) The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms hasn’t had a director since 2006 because the National Rifle Association has pressured senators to hold up every single nomination—even those by George W. Bush. Obama nominated Andrew Traver, a Navy veteran and longtime ATF special agent, to head the agency last year. But the NRA immediately came out against Traver because they connected him to promotion of “a variety of gun control schemes.” That might seem like natural experience for someone who hopes to lead a large federal agency charged with cracking down on illegal gun violence and trafficking, but apparently Republicans disagree—Traver’s nomination has been languishing in the Senate for months.
(5) Obama nominated John Bryson to lead the Commerce Department last week, and Republicans are already preparing for war on his nomination. Bryson helped start the National Resources Defense Council—or if you prefer the words of Senator James Inhofe, Bryson is “the founder of a radical environmental organization.” Inhofe has pledged to “work actively to defeat his nomination.” Other Republicans say they won’t vote to confirm Bryson until the Obama administration agrees to three free-trade agreements without including labor and environmental protections.
(6) Anybody who heads the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Senate Republicans took their obstruction to new levels last month, when forty-four senators signed a pre-emptive letter to President Obama saying they would oppose anyone that he nominated to lead the CFPB. Republicans are demanding a long list of changes that would reduce the agency’s power, including the creation of a five-member commission to run the CFPB instead of a single director. It’s a new low—Republicans aren’t just blocking the nomination of a particular person, but the existence of their intended position.