Sunday, February 10, 2008

Senate Democrats Continue to Impede Governance

The Macaca Post reports:

...President Bush pressed the Senate yesterday to break a political impasse and confirm more than 180 judicial and agency nominees whose appointments in many cases have been stalled for months.

Bush said the backlog strains the government's ability to respond to economic troubles, to ensure national security and to dispense justice. But Senate Democrats... are playing for time in the hope that their party captures the White House this fall...

Among those in limbo are three would-be Federal Reserve governors, four members of the Federal Election Commission, the chief of the Federal Aviation Administration, the head of the Internal Revenue Service, the deputy attorney general and 17 ambassadors. Perhaps most important to the White House are 28 designated judges who, if confirmed, would have lifetime tenure to shape the courts long after Bush leaves office.

"The confirmation process has turned into a never-ending political game where everyone loses," Bush said in the East Room, flanked by nominees whose confirmations have been delayed. He said more than half the nominees have been waiting for longer than 100 days and that more than 30 have been held up for a year or longer. "These are real folks, making real sacrifices, and they should not be treated like political pawns."


Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) chastised Bush for sticking with nominees who have no chance of confirmation. One example is Steven G. Bradbury, whose nomination as assistant attorney general is opposed by many senators because he signed memos authorizing especially harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects.

If a nominee truly has "no chance of confirmation," the Senate can vote to reject him.

The six-member FEC, for instance, is down to two members, short of the four needed to take official action such as launching investigations into campaign finance violations. Similarly, the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission cannot decide cases or penalize mines that commit safety violations because it has more vacancies than members.

The confirmation process has stretched out so long that even with the threat of recession, a Bush-nominated economist recently withdrew because he tired of waiting. "The three-member Council of Economic Advisers is down to one person," Bush noted, "which makes for lonely council meetings."

If a Democrat is elected in November, Senate Republicans should vow to block every confirmation vote until 2013.

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