ICYMI: Voices Highlight Consequences of Senate Nominee Obstruction

Washington DC – Though immigration reform legislation has taken center stage in the Senate this week, a range of voices are continuing to highlight unprecedented obstruction of executive and judicial nominations, focusing on the effects of these delays on the American people and bolstering the case for Senate rules reform in July.

Key Analysis and Coverage:

  • Tom Curry, NBC News: “There’s more here than just the normal Washington tactical maneuvering – it reflects Senate Republicans’ strategy to use McCarthy’s nomination as leverage in forcing changes in the way the EPA operates. And the power struggle affects Americans far beyond Washington, D.C. – whether the water they drink is clean or dirty, whether the company that employs them must comply with costly environmental regulations, or not.”
  • Steve Frank, MSNBC: “After working a double shift, the last thing a worker wants to hear about is the filibuster. But unprecedented Republican obstruction has consequences that affect nearly every American … And they threaten to make the National Labor Relations Board obsolete, leaving 80 million workers across America without vital safeguards … This goes far beyond judicial seats and labor. This is about democracy. This is about Republicans doing everything in their power to block the will of the people and this president and denying the last two presidential elections even took place.”

Outside Observers and Commentary:

  • Editorial, Charleston Gazette (WV): “ancient Senate rules let the Republican minority threaten a filibuster, which meant that passage required a 60 percent majority of senators … It's a shame that this parliamentary trick is needed to let the Senate perform its job of confirming appointees. Preferably, Senate rules should be changed to abolish filibusters entirely. Democracy works by majority rule, and minorities shouldn't continue obstructing democracy.”
  • Editorial, The Advocate (LA): “Lifetime appointments to federal courts cannot be approved by the Senate without care and deliberation, but in today’s hyper-political world they have become almost pure political prizes. This does a disservice to the courts, to the nation and also to the nominees. Many have to wait more than a year for even a hearing before the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, and some don’t even get that courtesy … The three are qualified and deserve a quick and respectful hearing in Judiciary, and then an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. Neither party has a perfect track record here, but the Senate should start to mend its record on judicial nominations this year.”
  • Richard Trumka, President of AFL-CIO, and Rick Bloomingdale, President of Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, Delaware County Times: “Justice delayed is justice denied, and justice to working people is being seriously denied because of the instability being forced upon the NLRB. President Obama has taken an important step toward restoring stability to our system of labor-management relations by nominating a full, bipartisan package of nominees to the NLRB. Pennsylvania’s working people can’t wait in limbo any longer. Responsibility for providing needed stability and the functioning NLRB working people need and deserve is now up to the U.S. Senate. The Senate should act quickly and confirm the president’s full slate of nominees.”
  • Ian Reifowitz, Huffington Post: “Today's partisan maneuvering is far more vicious than what happened under the previous Democratic minority … Nowadays, the Senate minority is seeking to block as many nominees as possible in order to prevent Obama from moving the judiciary in a direction that fits with his thinking … It's time to go nuclear. The facts that Goldman's study lays out make it clear that Senate Republicans don't believe Democrats, even when they win an election, should be allowed to govern. After the last election, Reid agreed to modest measures of "filibuster reform" that Republicans promptly ignored. Now it's time to call out their strategy of blanket obstruction for what it is: the subversion of democracy.”
  • Isaiah J. Poole, Campaign for America’s Future: “A narrow, 51-vote majority in the Senate supported legislation that would have kept student loan rates from increasing above 3.4 percent for the next two years, and would have covered the costs to the government by ending two tax breaks enjoyed by wealthy individuals and one used by oil companies. Nonetheless, in a Senate in which the filibuster has become routine, Republicans united to block debate and an up-or-down vote on the bill. Since all it takes is 40 votes to keep a bill from getting a full airing on the Senate floor and then either approval or defeat by majority vote on its merits, Republicans can continue their scorched-earth obstruction.”

Coalition Voices:

  • Sierra Club ‘Give Us 5 NLRB Nominees’ ad featured in Roll Call: “We can’t hold big polluters accountable or protect the rights of American workers and consumers if we’ve got no cops on the beat. But, inaction in the Senate has left key watchdog agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Labor Relations Board without leaders while putting key safeguards in jeopardy. The Senate Majority needs to break the logjam and confirm the President’s qualified nominees to fix the Senate and show the American people they can still get things done.”
    • David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance: “We need leaders in these vital positions to move our country forward, and these delay tactics put workers, the environment, and our economy at risk. Instead of stalling, Senate Republicans should swiftly process their nominations and help them by putting forward measures that create jobs, strengthen and renew efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and better protect public health.”
    • Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers:“Refusal to act in the Senate is undermining the ability to protect workers everywhere — especially at the NLRB and the Department of Labor. More and more, vacancies at key agencies go unfilled while less and less is getting done to ensure safe workplaces and communities.”
    • Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club: “If the Senate is truly interested in giving American families the full protection of the law, they’ll break the logjam and confirm the qualified nominees to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board, and courtrooms across the country.”
    • D. Michael Langford, National President of the Utility Workers Union of America: “This obstructionism brings our most basic democratic processes to a halt … Too many legislative priorities remain tied up in a flawed Senate procedure. The Senate’s failure to confirm highly qualified agency nominees and judges is unacceptable and must stop immediately.”
    • Peter Lehner, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council: “Advice and consent’ has been replaced by delay and obstruct. There is simply no excuse for the Senate Republican leadership preventing the courts and key federal agencies from being able to carry out their duties at full strength. In the case of EPA, Senate Republican tactics have resulted in an unprecedented delay in confirming Gina McCarthy even though she served under Republican governors and the Senate had already confirmed her for a related post. This is not a rational way to run a country.”
    • Bob King, President of the United Auto Workers: “In case after case the Republicans are grossly abusing filibuster rules to block hundreds of President Obama's appointments — both judicial and important department appointments. Their goal is to make our government less and less effective in protecting and responding to the needs of our citizens. They then turn around and blame President Obama and the Democrats for an ineffective government! Vicious, unethical, and unprincipled politics over the good of our country!”