Get PJ Media on your Apple

Post-Shutdown, GOP Finds New Fight Against Obama’s Nominees

The blocked vote on the nomination of Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency infuriates Reid.

by
Bill Straub

Bio

November 3, 2013 - 11:36 pm
Page 1 of 2  Next ->   View as Single Page

WASHINGTON – The confirmation wars erupted again in the Senate last week with Republican lawmakers coalescing behind opposition to two White House choices, leading to renewed speculation that Democrats may attempt to alter the chamber’s filibuster rules.

In separate votes, Republicans blocked votes on the nominations of Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency and attorney Patricia Millett to serve a judgeship on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

And the filibustering is unlikely to end with these two nominees. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) already has announced he intends to block the confirmation of Janet Yellen as Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System unless his legislation to require greater scrutiny of the agency receives consideration.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has threatened to delay all White House nominations – including Yellen’s — until the Obama administration permits witnesses to provide information about the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, in which four died, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. And there remain two additional picks to the D.C. Circuit Court pending – both considered more controversial than Millett.

The GOP revolt has once again raised questions about the use of the filibuster, which, when applied, requires legislation or a nomination to acquire 60 votes in the 100-member upper chamber before a vote can be conducted.

Both Watt and Millett drew enough votes to win confirmation in a majority vote but neither proved able to reach the 60-vote threshold. Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, characterized Millett as “an outstanding nominee who deserves to be treated on her merits” and said GOP opposition could warrant a change in the rules.

“That is not a change that I want to see happen but if Republican senators are going to hold nominations hostage without consideration of their individual merit, drastic measures may be warranted,” Leahy said. “I hope it does not come to that.”

Senate Democrats and Republicans have been butting heads over the filibuster of White House nominations for years. The sides agreed to some modest rules changes at the outset of the 113th Congress intended to make it easier to work around the delaying tactic, but Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, and other Democrats remain irritated over GOP efforts to block presidential nominees. Reid considered adopting the “nuclear option” – changing Senate rules to repeal the filibuster by simple majority vote – in July when the GOP stalled the nomination of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and others but the two sides reached a still-shaky, last-minute agreement to keep it in place after certain concessions.

Reid expressed contempt for Republican maneuvers over Watt and Millett but pulled up short of calling for any change.

“I will exercise my right as majority leader to reconsider these nominations at some point in the very near future,” Reid said. “I hope my Republican colleagues will reconsider their continued run of unprecedented obstructionism. Something has to change and I hope we can make the changes necessary through cooperation.”

In both cases, Reid said, Republicans “are serving the Tea Party instead of their constituents. Americans of all political stripes want their leaders to put ideology aside in common-sense cases like these and work together to get things done.”

Republicans oppose Millett and Watt for different reasons. Outside conservative groups, like the Club for Growth, oppose Watt not so much because of his qualifications, or lack thereof, but because they despise the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The group, led by former congressman Chris Chocola, wants to privatize two organizations it oversees – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – and then shut it down.

Senate rejection of a sitting member of Congress is extremely rare. No nominee for a cabinet position, for instance, has failed to gain approval since 1843. The FHFA isn’t a cabinet-level position, but the move to oppose Watt led Reid to nevertheless call it unprecedented.

There were questions about Watt’s qualifications. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) expressed doubt that Watt holds the technical aptitude for the job.

“I have said from day one that a technocrat, not a politician, should lead the FHFA, the regulator charged with overseeing the $5 trillion portfolios of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” said Corker, a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. “I hope the president will nominate a qualified technocrat with the expertise to play a constructive role in winding down Fannie and Freddie and modernizing our housing finance system.”

That view was further supported by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky.

“America needs someone with technical expertise and experience to run Fannie and Freddie’s conservator and ensure that we don’t repeat the same mistakes that led to the last financial crisis (of 2008),” McConnell said. “And taxpayers need someone who will protect against future bailouts.”

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Undoubtedly the US Senate will come together in a bipartisan spirit of collegiality to once again sell out conservative interests in the name of preserving the institutions of the greatest deliberative body in the world (and coincidently one way ratchet to the left). Senator McCain will lead the surrender party and Senator Graham, as one of the supposed instigators of this fight (coincidently occurring as he is being queued up for a good primarying) will get a week worth of tough sounding sound bites prior to groveling in abject appeasement before Majority Leader Reid and begging for a place at the table to sell us out on "immigration reform" also known as the "No Democrat Ever Defeated Again Act"...I am so sick of this...
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (13)
All Comments   (13)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Give us a budget. Then we can talk about your puppet nominations.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Block them until this sick administration tells the truth on so many cover-ups.
We're tired of being lied to.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
nobody gets confirmed until a budget is done, and tax cuts are implemented.

Nobody gets confirmed until spending is curtailed,
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The democrats pulled this sh!t when GWB was president.

As usual with the Left, what's good for the goose ain't good for the gander.

Anything that upsets the nutty, crooked, brain damaged guy from Nevada who currently calls the shots in the US Senate is a good thing.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
the greatest deliberative body in the world (and coincidently one way ratchet to the left). Senator McCain will lead the surrender party and Senator Graham, as one of the supposed instigators of this fight (coincidently occurring as he is being queued up for a good primarying) will get a week worth of tough sounding sound bites prior to groveling in abject appeasement...

I'd laugh at this, if it weren't so true. And so devastating. Without an opposition party, the socialists have taken over.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Where in the Constitution is federal housing authorized. It's not in the enumerated powers, nor is it in the 10th Amendment, an exclamation point on those powers. Shut down the FHA as an illegal operation. Let the landlords worry about the missing Section 8 cashflow that will follow.

If you look at the law, as in the Constitution, and then look at the federal gubmint, one can only conclude that we have mission creep to the point of widespread lawlessness. All in the name of good intentions, of course.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
the problem is that contracts are made that have violated the constitution, and shutting the tap off, punishes people that are in contracts.

Slowing the spigot and stopping new might be the way to deal with this, but again with surrender monkeys it may not happen.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Almost all the federal agencies qualify as "extra-constitutional", as you probably know.

And so many that might have been well-intentioned, even effective, at the outset (like the EPA) have turned into little fascist hothouse agenda-driven creepiness...Like Obama sycophant Lisa Jackson who lost her gig when caught conducting business sub rosa, or guy who said oil and gas producers should be "crucified"

In this government, you don't get a job based on skill and expertise but only for ideology.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
“The GOP’s unprincipled blockade of D.C. Circuit nominees is unprecedented, and it’s shameful,” said Marge Baker, PFAW’s executive vice president. Republicans, she added, are keeping the president “from fulfilling his Constitutional obligation to fill existing vacancies on the critically important federal courts.”

Baker fails to mention that some of those vacancies would have been filled by Bush appointees, except Democrats filibustered them, Obama included. Irony never applies to Dem shills.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
don't confuse dems/libs/with facts--it tends to make their head explode.

42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
As a general principle anything that disappoints Jay Carney and infuriates Harry Reid is good for the country.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
delaying the appointment of another overpaid, overcompensated fed. bureaucrat. is there a downside here?
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Undoubtedly the US Senate will come together in a bipartisan spirit of collegiality to once again sell out conservative interests in the name of preserving the institutions of the greatest deliberative body in the world (and coincidently one way ratchet to the left). Senator McCain will lead the surrender party and Senator Graham, as one of the supposed instigators of this fight (coincidently occurring as he is being queued up for a good primarying) will get a week worth of tough sounding sound bites prior to groveling in abject appeasement before Majority Leader Reid and begging for a place at the table to sell us out on "immigration reform" also known as the "No Democrat Ever Defeated Again Act"...I am so sick of this...
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
View All

One Trackback to “Post-Shutdown, GOP Finds New Fight Against Obama’s Nominees”