Ted Cruz Still Trying to Hold Government Hostage, Enabled by Senate Rules

Washington, DC – Fresh off his instrumental role in the fiscal-related government shutdown, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is showing that he still intends to hold basic government functioning hostage to his demands – and is being enabled by Senate rules and norms that continue to facilitate obstruction, the Fix the Senate Now coalition said today.

The Hill newspaper reports that Sen. Cruz is now blocking the confirmation of Tom Wheeler to chair the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), because of Cruz’s fear-mongering that links the FCC to the goals of the DISCLOSE Act (filibustered legislation that “would have required political groups to reveal more information about their donors.”) This comes just days after media reports that Sen. Cruz’s reckless endangerment if the American economy was in part to assist one of the very outside shadowy political groups the DISCLOSE Act would impact.

Of note, the same Hill article reports that attempts “to advance the nomination of Terrell McSweeny for a seat on the Federal Trade Commission” are also being blocked and delayed because “an unidentified senator objected.”

This past July witnessed the Senate advancing the stalled confirmations of seven qualified executive branch nominees – an important step forward toward a functional Senate. However, it is worrisome that the Senate is trending back toward its default of obstruction for qualified nominees.  Beyond the FCC and FTC nominations, other qualified executive branch nominees, such as Rep. Mel Watt for Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), remain caught up in obstruction furthered by outdated Senate rules. 

Qualified nominees should not be able to be blocked for pet political reasons or through anonymous holds. Unless and until the Senate shows it is able to meet its fundamental responsibilities to the American people, Senate rules reform should remain on the table.