Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent the following letter today to White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten in response to his letter regarding outstanding nominations. “Despite the fact that I have acted to confirm the overwhelming majority of the President’s qualified nominees, many of my Democratic selections are either being stalled at the White House or are the subject of holds by Republican Senators,” Reid wrote. “I wish to see these Democrats nominated expeditiously and those pending in the Senate confirmed.”
The text of the letter is below:
June 2, 2008
Mr. Joshua Bolten
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. Bolten:
I am writing to respond to your letter of today regarding nominations. I found it disappointing that our pre-recess agreement to confirm roughly 80 nominations, including the Housing Secretary nominee, was blocked by Republican obstruction.
During my tenure as Majority Leader, I have worked hard to approve Presidential nominations. Last year, for example, a total of 23,147 nominations were received in the Senate. A total of 22,892 nominations were confirmed, 31 were withdrawn and one was returned to the White House. This year, a total of 9,727 new nominations were received in the Senate and 7,846 have been confirmed and 31 have been withdrawn.
The overwhelming majority of the nominations not yet approved this year are relatively non-controversial promotions that I expect to be acted upon in due course.
As you may be aware, the Housing Secretary nominee had only completed his required Committee disclosure and review process the week prior to recess. His hearing was held the Thursday before recess. While Senators desired to utilize the typical post-hearing period to ask the nominee follow-up questions and then have a formal markup, I asked Chairman Dodd to dispense with those important tasks in an effort to meet a request by you that the nominee be confirmed before break.
Due to Chairman Dodd’s work, we cleared the nominee on the same day of his hearing. Despite this work, a Republican Senator objected to the package of nominees, including the Housing Secretary nominee, and therefore none of the approved nominees were approved.
I had similarly worked before break to clear the nominations to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in response to your demand that those nominees be confirmed before Memorial Day. Within two weeks of the arrival of 3 new nominees, Chairman Feinstein held the hearing for those nominees, reported them from Committee and cleared them for confirmation. Despite your demand of confirmations before Memorial Day, Republicans objected to such confirmation.
Despite the fact that I have acted to confirm the overwhelming majority of the President’s qualified nominees, many of my Democratic selections are either being stalled at the White House or are the subject of holds by Republican Senators. I wish to see these Democrats nominated expeditiously and those pending in the Senate confirmed. Several of my recommended nominees have waited over six months without nomination by the President. Several of my Democratic nominees on the Executive Calendar have been held by Republicans for over six months. The process of confirming nominations works both ways.
As we have recently discussed, the nominees pending in the Senate are the President’s nominees, not those of Senate Republicans. It is difficult for me to comprehend that the agreement negotiated by you, the President’s Chief of Staff, and me before recess could be hijacked at the last minute by Senate Republicans. We were unable to complete a deal on nominations because the Republican minority has convinced you that these nominees are theirs, not the President’s. It is similarly difficult for me to comprehend how I am responsible for your inability to complete our agreement due to Republican obstruction.
I look forward to working with you to ensure that both Republicans and Democratic nominees may move forward in the days and weeks ahead.