Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has decided to block Tom Perez, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Labor. This morning Senate Republicans also decided to delay voting on President Obama’s nominee for the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy.
McConnell called Perez “a crusading ideologue,” who “seems to view himself as free to employ whatever means at his disposal, legal or otherwise, to achieve his ideological goals.”
Whether cabinet or judicial, the pattern by Senate Republicans is familiar: Run out the clock on Obama’s presidency and blunt his power by blocking the people he selects to work in his Administration. Regarding judicial nominations, Senate Republicans have created record wait times on President Obama’s nominees. The delays have been four times longer than judicial nominees under President Bush.
With Obama’s cabinet, Senate Republicans killed the nomination of Susan Rice to be Secretary of State, delayed the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense, delayed the nomination of John Brennan to be CIA Director with a filibuster, and delayed the nomination of Jacob Lew for Treasury Secretary. Hagel was the first Defense Secretary in American history to be filibustered upon nominations.
In the case of Lew, Republicans flooded the process with over 4oo written questions — which was more requests received from the previous seven Treasury nominees put together. Lew was later confirmed as was Hagel. This morning the obstruction on President Obama’s nominees continued.
“For too long EPA has failed to deliver on the promises of transparency espoused by President Barack Obama, former Administrator Lisa Jackson, and by Gina McCarthy,” Republican Senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee wrote in a letter on why they were delaying McCarthy’s nomination. The Republican Senators are boycotting the meeting which will delay the nomination.
There are currently 82 vacancies for federal judges around the U.S. By using the secret “hold,” Republican Senators don’t have to reveal they are blocking a nominee.
Some in the media, such as veteran journalists Ron Fournier to E.J. Dionne, have written that it’s President Obama that must adjust to Congress or in some way adjust his strategy. But clearly the strategy of obstruction President Obama has faced during the 112th and 113th Congresses is historic.
With compromise disappearing and Congress getting close to nothing done, members are leaving. The Senate has had a 40% turnover in the last five years. Many say the culture in the Senate driven by unwillingness to compromise with President Obama have led to the historic obstruction.
“This use to be a legislative job. Now it’s for grandstanding and Monday morning quarterbacking,” said Charlie Cook on MSNBC this morning.