2:12pm May 9, 2013

Historic Obstruction: Republicans Block Obama’s Nominees at EPA, Labor, Justice


enate 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.”


Tom Perez

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.


Hagel: Historic filibuster

“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.

About the Author

Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke is an opinion journalist, comms expert and political analyst focused on justice reform policy. She created Crewof42.com, a blog that covers the work of Black members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke was a staffer for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and Director of Communications for Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN). She has had a very diverse career in politics and media and appears regularly on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin, Hardball and Up on MSNBC, WVON in Chicago, WURD in Philadelphia and WOL and WHUR in Washington, D.C. She is currently the Managing Editor of Politic365 and a contributing writer for TheRoot and NBC Black where she writes opinion and analysis. Additionally, Ms. Burke has been a contract photographer for Associated Press since 2004. She has authored three books of photography including two on President Obama's 2008 campaign for the presidency and one with Marvel Comics publisher Stan Lee. Ms. Burke was born in the Bronx, New York and grew up on Long Island. She holds a B.A. in History from The American University. Here e-mail is: LBurke007@gmail.com. Twitter: @LVBurke. Instagram: LVB325.



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