GOP Knocks Obama For Unfilled Positions While They Block Nominees
Two agencies charged with keeping terrorists of planes have not had leaders for almost a year. The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) and the Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) have acting heads. South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint placed a hold on former police officer and FBI agent Erroll Southers, Obama’s choice to head the TSA for fear he’d let screeners join a union. Republican Congressman John Mica of Florida complains, “Running a security agency with a revolving door is a recipe for failure. But Republicans have consistently gotten in the way of swiftly getting Obama’s nominees into their jobs.
Miriam Saprio’s nomination in April to be deputy US trade representative was held up until December because Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky was upset about a measure before the Canadian parliament that would have harmed US tobacco companies. Bunning wanted US trade authorities to intervene, in spite of a restriction from promotion of tobacco use.
Sapiro isn’t alone. For all the bellyaching about the Obama administration’s supposed excess of policymaking czars outside the normal appointment process, Senate Republicans have been blocking confirmation of a disturbing number of administration nominees, many for reasons having nothing to do with their suitability for their jobs.
Here are some other blockages:
Missouri Republican Kit Bond is holding up confirmation of Martha Johnson, the nominee to head the General Services Administration, because the agency has been balking at constructing a $175 million federal building for Kansas City. Johnson’s nomination has been languishing on the Senate floor since June.
Louisiana Republican David Vitter [had] a hold on Paul Anastas to be an assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency until the EPA agrees to delay issuing regulations on formaldehyde, which has been classified as a probable human carcinogen. The irony of Vitter’s hold is that one of the biggest potential problems with the chemical involves Hurricane Katrina survivors exposed to formaldehyde in FEMA trailers. (Anastas was confirmed Christmas Eve, after a deal was struck with Vitter).
South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint [blocked] confirmation of Arturo Valenzuela to be assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere because Valenzuela had the temerity to call the military coup ousting Honduran President Manuel Zelaya a “classic military coup.” (He was finally confirmed in November)
Eight Republican senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, warned Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that “we will not consent” to Senate floor action on nearly a dozen nominations — including the U.S. surgeon general — until the department rescinds what they termed a “gag order” on health insurers. (Regina Benjamin was eventually confirmed in November)Click here for reuse options!
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