Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!

I know I've pointed out numerous time in various places the extreme measures that the G.O.P. has been employing since last year to completely and utterly delay, if not derail, the legislative process. Holds have been placed on every single nomination on not just cabinet level nominations, but on all levels, many of whom are not in the least way controversial. The filibuster has been invoked on over 90% of all legislation, including bills that are eventually passed unanimously, such as a bill to extend unemployment benefits with passed the Senate 90-0. And it is the Senate where this is a unique problem. Here is just one example: Craig Becker has been nominated to serve on the National Labor Relations Board; Senator McCain has placed a hold on his nomination back in July and that hold is still in effect. During this time Mr. Becker has answered over 280 submitted written questions from various senators and is still awaiting confirmation. A hold on a nomination, from a purely theoretical viewpoint makes lots of sense. A senator places a hold, so that a nominee can be more thoroughly vetted. Whatever committee that senator sits upon can then ask the nominee questions, hold further hearings and get more testimony from references, for or against, said nominee. But it is being used for sheer political reasons at this point. That was why we did not have a Surgeon General during the H1N1 scare. That was why there was no one in charge at the National Travel Safety Board (and still isn't) when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to destroy an airliner bound for Detroit on Christmas Day. (Mr Southers, the nominee for the position withdrew his nomination on Jan 20th, in frustration perhaps? - Thank Jim DeMint for that.) At President George W. Bush's one year mark there were 70 nominees still awaiting confirmation, which shows that both sides play this game. But at President Obama's 365th day in office there were 177 nominees still awaiting confirmation. What's worse is that dozens and dozens of those nominees are slated to work in areas affecting the U.S.'s safety and foreign policy - in the midst of two wars! There is no one at the head of the Office of Legal Counsel (that would have been the guy in W's administration who wrote the torture memos.) There was no undersecretary for the Western Hemisphere, whose duties include coordinating our response to events in South America, during the constitutional crisis in Honduras.

What puzzles, as well as alarms me, is that people in this country do not a) care about this or b) are simply not aware of this. The rest of the world has certainly taken notice as U. S. embassies around the world sat empty due to the lack of an ambassador, China hasn't been fully engaged on currency exchange policy due to staffing shortages in the Treasury Department... And why? Because the senate G.O.P. has the legislative process hog-tied and locked up in a closet in an attempt to paint the Democrats as unable to get things done.

By the way, do know how many of the 280 written questions submitted to Mr. Becker were submitted by Senator McCain?

Z E R O !

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