Last week, Andrew Sullivan penned a rather long blog post about the evolving economic – and political – dynamics of the world. Yet, when he reached his commentary about America, there was a hazy moment where he blamed House Republicans for obstructing Obama’s various appointments. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is so frustrated that he’s considering going nuclear on the matter, especially with regards to the nominees for the National Labor Relations Board. The problem is the House doesn’t confirm executive branch appointments. That’s the job of the U.S. Senate. In his July 9 post, Sullivan wrote:
In America, violence, mercifully, is held at bay in these struggles, but the political system has effectively ground to a halt under their weight. Despite getting fewer votes than the Democrats for president, House and Senate, the Republicans are using their gerrymandered majority in the House to block even executive branch appointees from approval. They are determined to destroy universal healthcare. They are launching a national campaign to shut down abortion clinics. They deny climate science. They voted against tax cuts – purely because a Democratic president proposed them.
Let’s take a look at the U.S. Constitution, specifically Article II Section 2.
He [POTUS] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
It seems Mr. Sullivan misread the document. As for Reid, the nuclear option is still on the table. They’re still discussing a way to avoid this legislative kefuffle right now.
Although, while Sullivan may be clueless on executive branch appointments, Reid is just morally bankrupt. Back in 2005, when Republicans were foolishly considering the same thing to confirm Janice Rogers Brown, William Pryor, and Priscilla Owen – Bush’s judicial appointments– the gentleman from Nevada had this to say back then:
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “I would never, ever consider breaking the rules to change the rules. I never suggested that at all. I say to my friend, I want to work something out. I repeat that for probably the fifth time here today, but in the process we cannot give up the basic rights this country and this Senate have had for more than 200 years.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4242, 4/26/05)
REID: “As I said, violating 217 years of standard procedure in the Senate, changing the rules by breaking the rules, is about as far as you could get from a constitutional option.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.5250, 5/17/05)
REID: “One of the good things about this institution we have found in the 214 years it has been in existence is that the filibuster, which has been in existence since the beginning, from the days of George Washington–we have changed the rules as relates to it a little bit but never by breaking the rules.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4437, 4/27/05)
REID: “The time has come for those Senators of the majority to decide where they stand, whether they will abide by the rules of the Senate or break the rules for the first time in 217 years–217 years–of American history. Will they support the checks and balances established by the Founding Fathers… It is hard for me to intellectually understand, emotionally understand how a Senator could say they know we are right but they are willing to break the rules to change the rules.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.5198, 5/16/05)
UPDATE: Stephen Green reports that Senate Democrats have backed away from going nuclear.