executive nominations

Contempt for the Constitution Shows in Opposition to Adegbile

Today's shameful demagoguery against Debo Adegbile slights the constitutional protections that keep us free.
PFAW

PFAW Memo: GOP Exceeds Expectations…on Executive Branch Obstruction

To: Interested Parties
From: Marge Baker, Executive Vice President, People For the American Way
Date: November 18, 2013
Re: GOP Exceeds Expectations…on Executive Branch Obstruction


Earlier this year, People For the American Way released an analysis showing the unprecedented level of obstruction faced by President Obama’s nominees to the executive branch. At that time, 16 of the President’s nominees to the executive branch of government had faced filibusters from Republican senators and were the subject of cloture votes after Republicans refused to allow an up-or-down vote on their nominations. That number was on pace to reach 28 nominees by the end of President Obama’s second term.

Since then, things have only gotten worse.

In the last four months, eleven additional executive branch nominees have faced filibusters from Republicans intent on blocking their nominations. These include Fred P. Hochberg (Export-Import Bank President), Regina McCarthy (Environmental Protection Agency Administrator), Thomas Perez (Secretary of Labor), Kent Yoshiho Hirozawa (National Labor Relations Board member), Nancy Jean Schiffer (National Labor Relations Board member), Mark Gaston Pearce (National Labor Relations Board Chairman), Byron Todd Jones (Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), Richard F. Griffin (National Labor Relations Board General Counsel), Alan F. Estevez (Assistant Secretary of Defense Logistics and Materiel Readiness), Katherine Archuleta (Director of the Office of Personnel Management), and Congressman Melvin L. Watt (Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency). Notably, the filibuster of Congressman Watt represented the first filibuster of a sitting member of Congress for an executive branch appointment since before the Civil War.

Importantly, the rate of obstruction has increased considerably, and Republicans are now on pace to filibuster a full 45 nominees before the end of the Obama administration in January 2017.

Not only do these filibusters hinder the work of a wide range of agencies and departments, they are also part of a larger Republican agenda to nullify existing laws through obstruction. Many of President Obama’s executive branch nominees have faced filibusters not because Senate Republicans objected to their personal qualifications, but because they do not wish to allow the agencies and departments to which they have been nominated to do their work.

This nullification strategy is part of the same wrong-headed philosophy that forced the government to shut down last month, and which is currently preventing three impressively qualified nominees for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals from receiving confirmation votes.

The ultimate victims of Republican obstruction aren’t the Senate’s Democratic leadership or even President Obama, but the individual Americans who depend on a government that operates effectively and addresses the needs of real people.

Correction: This post was updated to include the filibusters of Fred Hochberg, Regina McCarthy, and Thomas Perez.

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PFAW Applauds Perez Confirmation

WASHINGTON – People For the American Way today applauded the Senate confirmation of Tom Perez as Secretary of Labor.  Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way, released the following statement:

“Anyone who cares about the fair treatment of workers or civil rights should be thrilled by the confirmation of Tom Perez.  During his time in the Justice Department, Perez’s commitment to protecting the rights of Americans – whether they are women, people of color, LGBT people, or people with disabilities – has been extraordinary.  He has spent his career fighting for the rights of all Americans and now he will be able to take that passion and commitment to the Department of Labor. 

“Even though today’s vote is an important step forward, we must continue to confront the partisan gridlock in the Senate that is hurting the American people. We must ensure that the President’s judicial nominees, like his executive nominees, also receive up and down votes. The American people understand that when senators decide they’d rather play politics than do their jobs, it harms not only Congress but all of our country.”

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PFAW Memo: GOP Obstruction of Executive Branch Nominees

From: Marge Baker, Executive Vice President, People For the American Way
To: Interested Parties
Re: GOP Obstruction of Executive Branch Nominees
Date: July 10, 2013

Despite the fact that Democrats hold a significant majority in the Senate, Republican senators are continuing to block President Obama’s Executive Branch nominees at a rate never before seen, according to a review of records by People For the American Way.

From 1949 (when Senate rules were changed to provide for cloture on nominations) through 2008, cloture votes were forced on only 20 executive branch nominations. However, in just the first four and a half years of the Obama administration, there have already been 16 such cloture votes, on the nominations of: Cass Sunstein (OMB), Robert Groves (Census), Harold Koh (State Department), Chris Hill (Ambassador to Iraq), David Hayes (Interior), Ben Bernanke (Federal Reserve), M. Patricia Smith (Labor Department), Martha Johnson (GSA), Craig Becker (NLRB), Lael Brainard (Treasury Department), James Cole (DOJ), Richard Cordray (CFPB), Norman Eisen (Ambassador to Czech Republic), Mari Aponte (Ambassador to El Salvador), Chuck Hagel (DOD), and John Brennan (CIA).

That’s an increase of more than 1,000% in the rate of forced cloture votes on nominations – 20 nominations on which cloture votes were forced in sixty years compared to 16 in just four and a half.  Republicans are on pace to force 28 cloture votes by the end of the Obama administration – more than under all previous presidents combined.

An examination of President George W. Bush’s term reveals that the Senate subjected only seven executive nominations to cloture votes in the entire eight years of his presidency—compared to 16 in just the first four and a half of the Obama administration.

Yet the full extent of the problem is even greater than what these numbers tell, because not all cloture petitions lead to formal cloture votes. So the total number of cloture petitions filed is important, and it also reveals a dramatic increase in the magnitude of obstruction.  Between 1949 and 2008, there were 32 executive nominations on which cloture was filed. There have been 25 filed so far under President Obama.

Indeed, during all eight years of George W. Bush’s presidency, there were only 15 executive branch nominees on which cloture petitions were filed compared to 25 in just the first four and a half years of the Obama administration.  At the current rate, President Obama can expect 44 of his executive nominees to face cloture petitions – more than under all previous presidents combined.

Moreover, the number of cloture votes and petitions may well go much higher than that—there are currently 15 executive branch nominations on the Senate’s calendar.  All of these nominees have been waiting over three months for a vote from the Senate. Three were first nominated in 2011, meaning they have been waiting more than a year and a half, one almost two years, for a confirmation vote.

Senate Republicans are currently blocking nominees to a number of critical federal offices, including Tom Perez, nominated to be Secretary of Labor; Gina McCarthy, nominated to head the Environmental Protection Agency; Richard Cordray, picked to be the first chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and five members of the National Labor Relations Board. It is no coincidence that these nominees have all been picked to head government offices that Republicans view with suspicion. Unable to eliminate these offices through democratic means, Senate Republicans are trying to cripple them through procedural obstruction.

This sort of obstruction is literally unprecedented for either party and must be stopped. It prevents executive branch departments from serving critical public needs, and it represents, essentially, an effort to overturn the results of the last election.

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Recess Appointments Ruling Shows Consequences of GOP Obstructionism

There would be no litigation on recess appointments but for Republicans' refusal to allow the Senate to vote on President Obama's nominees.
PFAW

PFAW Applauds President for Appointing Cordray; Recess Appointment a Necessary and Proper Response to GOP Obstruction

In a move to ensure the functioning of an important consumer protection agency in the face of escalating GOP obstructionism, the White House announced that President Obama will install Richard Cordray as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a recess appointment today.

Marge Baker of People For the American Way issued the following statement:

PFAW: Senate GOP Chooses Big Banks Over Consumers, Blocks Cordray Nomination

The Senate GOP today blocked a vote on the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

PFAW Applauds White House Call for September Action on Judges

Earlier this week, Senate Republicans yet again prevented the Senate from voting on highly qualified judicial nominees who had cleared committee, leaving 20 of them in limbo even though 17 had no recorded opposition.

Time to Stop GOP Obstruction of Judicial Nominees

As the Senate prepares for a planned recess scheduled through Labor Day, it is incumbent upon Republicans to allow floor votes on the rapidly increasing number of judicial nominees who have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee but whose nominations are still pending before the whole Senate.

Why is the GOP keeping women and people of color off the bench?

To: Interested Parties
From: Marge Baker
Re: Why is the GOP keeping women and people of color off the bench?
Date: May 31, 2011

Last week, all Senate Republicans except Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski united to block Goodwin Liu, President Obama’s nominee to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, from getting an up or down confirmation vote.

Goodwin Liu Withdraws Nomination; PFAW Blasts Senate GOP's Smear Campaign

Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu requested that President Obama withdraw his nomination to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Liu, who was first nominated to the position two years ago, was refused an up-or-down vote by Senate Republicans.

Senate Republicans Block Vote on Nomination of Goodwin Liu, Double Down on Partisan Obstruction

Republicans today used procedural tactics to block an up-or-down vote on the nomination of Goodwin Liu, President Obama’s nominee to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Flashback: GOP Senators Claim Filibusters of Judicial Nominees are Unconstitutional

The impending cloture vote on the Goodwin Liu nomination will be an important test to separate those senators who stand on principle from those who put politics above all else.

Senate Confirms Ed Chen: Republicans Forego Obstruction

The Senate today confirmed Ed Chen as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Despite attacks by some GOP leaders, Chen was confirmed by a vote of 56 to 42 and did not face a filibuster.

Marge Baker of People For the American Way issued the following statement:

“Ed Chen is exceedingly well qualified for this seat. Despite the repeated delays he was forced to endure, Americans should be glad that the Senate finally confirmed his nomination.

PFAW Edit Memo: The Lesson From One Year of Health Care Reform—Pay Attention to the Courts

When health care reform legislation was signed one year ago, the sustained attack against health care reform didn’t stop when the bill was signed. Almost immediately, the opponents of the bill opened a new attack on the legislation in a different venue: the federal courts.

PFAW Edit Memo: Progress on Judicial Confirmations (But Not Enough)

From: Marge Baker, People For the American Way
To: Interested Parties
Date: March 8, 2011
Re: Progress on Judicial Confirmations (But Not Enough)

Organizations Call on Senate Leaders to Keep Confirmations Moving

In a letter sent today, a wide array of organizations called on Senate leaders to ensure that President Obama’s judicial nominees receive timely votes during the 112th Congress.

Editorial Memorandum: Judicial Nominees and the State of the Union

To: Interested Parties
From: Marge Baker, People For the American Way
Re: Judicial Nominees and the State of the Union
Date: January 25, 2011

While it’s not clear exactly which Supreme Court Justices will attend President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight, it is clear that at least some of the Court’s conservative members agree with the President on one pressing issue: the need to hasten the confirmation of judges to the federal bench.

Republicans Stymie Progress on Judicial Nominations

According to media reports, Senate Republicans have agreed to confirm a total of 19 of the 38 judicial nominations pending on the Senate’s calendar at the beginning of the lame duck session in exchange for a commitment that Senate Democrats refrain from holding votes on four others.
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