Senate Democrats

Reid Remarks On Republican Obstruction Of Qualified Nominees

“At a moment when America faces difficult economic times at home and varied threats abroad, it’s crucial the Senate confirm the most talented and dedicated individuals to serve in the executive branch of government.” 

“Back when a Republican served in the White House, Senate Republicans often defended the right of the President to choose the players on his team.” 

“We should… remove partisanship from the confirmation process and ensure highly qualified nominees receive the fair and speedy consideration they deserve.” 

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regardingRepublican’s partisan obstruction of qualified executive branch nominees.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Today the Senate will consider a motion to proceed to a resolution of disapproval, filed by the Republican Leader, which would cause this country to default on its debts for the first time in history. Democrats will oppose this motion, and vote to preserve the full faith and credit of the United States.

I would remind my Republican friends that two weeks ago, every Democrat and 27 Republicans in the Senate as well as 285 members of the House of Representatives already voted to do the right thing and pay the nation’s bills. I look forward to quickly dispensing with this Republican resolution, which would risk America’s economic security as well as a global depression. That vote will take place this afternoon, after the weekly caucus meetings.

Directly after the vote on the Republican default legislation, we will vote to break a filibuster of President Obama’s nomination of Richard Griffin to serve as general counsel to the National Labor Relations Board. Although few Americans are aware of the job this board does, the NLRB looks out for the rights of millions of U.S. workers every day – regardless of whether they are in a union.

Mr. Griffin has extensive experience in employment law, and is highly respected by his fellow labor lawyers on both the union and business sides. As general counsel for the NLRB, he will safeguard fair compensation and working conditions for all American workers.

This week the Senate will also vote on a number of other crucial executive nominees, many of whom have been stalled for months by Republican obstruction.

The Senate will consider the nomination of Katherine Archuleta to serve as director of the Office of Personnel Management. Ms. Archuleta, who started her career in public service as an elementary school teacher, would be the agency’s first Hispanic director. Her desire to serve is earnest. This is what she said: “You do it because you have a deep passion for public good, for civic engagement.”

Ms. Archuleta worked in both the Transportation and Energy departments under President Clinton. And she served as chief of staff to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis for three years. She is eminently qualified. Yet Ms. Archuleta is the first OPM director to be filibustered in the 35-year history of the agency.

This week the Senate will also consider the stalled nomination of Alan Estevez to be principal deputy undersecretary of defense. This man’s nomination has been stalled for 402 days – since September of last year. He will be responsible for a $170 billion logistics budget that supports our men and women in uniform as well as the millions of machines that take them where they need to go. Mr. Estevez has specialized in military logistics for more a decade. And it is unfortunate that Republicans would hold up confirmation of such a crucial defense department nominee solely for unrelated political reasons.

The junior Senator from Texas has also placed a hold on the nomination of Tom Wheeler to serve as a Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission. In addition to writing two books, Mr. Wheeler has founded several technology companies, co-founded the largest online targeted news service and helped develop the U.S. government’s telecommunications policy.

President Obama nominated Tom Wheeler, a Democrat, as well as Republican Michael O’Rielly to fill two vacant seats on the FCC. So what is stopping us from filling these vacancies with a bipartisan pair of nominees? The Senator from Texas has stalled this nomination because he opposes legislation proposed by Democrats in Congress that would require shadowy groups that spend millions on political advertising to disclose their donors.

For evidence of how out of hand political holds have become, consider the nomination of Jack Lew, a sitting Treasury Secretary, to serve as U.S. Governor to International Banks. Jack Lew was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 27, 2013 to serve as the 76th Secretary of the Treasury.

Secretary Lew previously served as White House chief of staff, director of the Office of Management and Budget and as an executive at Citigroup. He is a talented and dedicated public servant, as his Senate confirmation proves. Unfortunately, this nomination, which is typically considered a mere formality, has been subject to a partisan hold.

Every Treasury Secretary serves as the United States’ representatives on the international banks boards and offers input about America’s position on global financial matters. It is an embarrassment that we haven’t acted more swiftly to confirm him in this role. Yet the junior Senator from Kentucky has subjected this nomination to partisan wrangling, as he threatens to do with the nomination of Janet Yellen to serve as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Mel Watt, the nominee to serve as administrator of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, is also subject to a Republican hold, despite being a sitting member of Congress. Congressman Watt has represented North Carolina’s 12th congressional district since 1993, and served as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. And as a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, Mr. Watt understands the mistakes that led to the housing crisis.

He also proposed legislation to crack down on the worst abuses in mortgage lending and helped pass the Dodd-Frank bill to prevent predatory lending. By any measure, Congressman Watt is qualified to help struggling homeowners recover from the worst economic downturn in generations. And my Republican colleagues should give him the up-or-down vote he deserves.

At a moment when America faces difficult economic times at home and varied threats abroad, it’s crucial the Senate confirm the most talented and dedicated individuals to serve in the executive branch of government. Yet Republicans have, again and again, injected politics into the confirmation process. Back when a Republican served in the White House, Senate Republicans often defended the right of the President to choose the players on his team. We should return to that custom, remove partisanship from the confirmation process and ensure highly qualified nominees receive the fair and speedy consideration they deserve.

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