Tag: judgeships

No Excuse

by on Oct.17, 2009, under Politics

This Washington Post article caused a minor blogospheric stir yesterday:

During his first nine months in office, Obama has won confirmation in the Democratic-controlled Senate for just three of his 23 nominations for federal judgeships, largely because Republicans have used anonymous holds and filibuster threats to slow the proceedings to a crawl.

Some Republicans contend that the White House has hurt itself by its slow pace in sending over nominations for Senate consideration. President George W. Bush sent 95 names to the Senate in the same period that Obama has forwarded 23.

You can’t control what you can’t control. Senate Republicans are gonna do what they’re gonna do. But there’s really no earthly reason for Obama to have sent over only 23 nominations when, as we learn a few paragraphs later, there are currently 90 vacancies in the federal courts.

If it were only the courts I’d be inclined not to worry about it. But this inexplicable delay in nominations affects every part of the Obama administration. For example:

Obama has filled just 15 of the 93 U.S. Attorney posts, with another 12 recommendations awaiting review by the Senate Judiciary Committee and three awaiting confirmation by the Senate.

So a total of 30 nominations for 93 jobs. As far as I know, Obama still hasn’t nominated a USAID administrator since the Senate Foreign Relations Committee complained about the vacancy three or four weeks ago. There’s been no nomination of an Inspector General for EPA.

Yes, Senate Republicans are putting an unprecedented number of holds on every subcabinet post under the sun for obvious ideological reasons. But the hold is a courtesy. If Senate Democrats believe that courtesy is being abused, they have more than enough power to do something about it, they needn’t just whine.

More importantly, it’s still no excuse for not nominating after this much time. The regulatory decisions of federal agencies can make huge differences in people’s lives much faster than new laws. Obama’s already sacrificed nearly a year’s worth of such policymaking for no good reason.

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