07.31.2009 0

Editorial: No Senate Rubber Stamp for Obama Nominees

  • On: 08/05/2009 09:21:15
  • In: Appointments
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is planning on utilizing a unanimous consent resolution on 14 controversial nominations by Barack Obama this week, just days before the Senate leaves for its August recess. These nominees range from the radical to those with a conflict of interest to the least experienced politicians ever appointed to key positions.

    And unless Senate Republicans object, they will all be rubber-stamped and eased into office without any debate or vote.

    According to the U.S. Senate website, a unanimous consent agreement is a “unanimous consent request setting terms for the consideration of a specified bill or other measure. These agreements are usually proposed by the Majority Leader or floor manager of the measure, and reflect negotiations among Senators interested in the measure.”

    Many are so-called “time agreements,” which limit the time available for debate and specify who will control that time. Others state which amendments can be included, if any. Others still contain other provisions, such as empowering the Majority Leader to call up the measure at will or stipulating the time for consideration.

    In a press release, ALG President Bill Wilson said, “Barack Obama has made some of the most radical appointments in U.S. history, and these 14 nominations in particular should be subject to a recorded vote at a minimum.”

    Americans for Limited Government has published a brief background on each of the 14 nominees stating the organization’s objections. Here are five that warrant particular interest:

    • Cass Sunstein (Admin. Off. Of Information and Reg. Affairs, OMB): Favors giving animals right to sue, favors limits First and Second Amendment limits, and “would like another Bill of Rights to guarantee employment, food, clothing, shelter, education, recreation, and health care.”
    • Arturo Valenzuela (Asst. Sec. for Western Hemisphere Affairs): Very poor record on freedom in Latin America (see below).
    • John Fernandez (Asst. Sec. of Commerce for Economic Development) “John Fernandez approved the spending of $1 million of taxpayers’ money for the demolition of a building on private property. He later took a job with the property’s owner.”
    • Patricia Smith (Solicitor for Labor Dept.): “Designed a program in NY to use community activist groups to enforce wage and hour laws…” deputizing union officials “to shake down employers that are organizing targets of the union.”
    • John Sullivan (Commission for FEC): Was a longtime union counsel in election cases. According to the background, “FEC regulations already strongly favor unions compared to other entities and such concern exists about how he would push the FEC regulations as regards issues such as ‘member communications,’ a loophole that unfairly benefits unions while muzzling other entities.”

    While Majority Leader Reid may have a particular political interest in expediting the confirmation of these nominees before August, there is nothing to prevent each of them from being subjected to roll call votes, where every member can have his or her say on the fate of the nomination. And, equally important, the American people can learn the full facts.

    The American people have a right to know where, for example, their Senators stand on the confirmation of Cass Sunstein, who favors giving animals the right to sue in court and constitutionally-guaranteed health care and education.

    Or Arturo Valenzuela, who has supported the Obama Administration’s meddling in the constitutional governance of Honduras, and even has gone as far as to serve as apologist for Hugo Chavez’s crackdown of press freedom. Chavez’s record is nothing short of appalling: he has censored some 34 radio stations, and just this year, he threatened to shut down Globovision because the television station criticized the Venezuelan dictator. Globovision is the only channel left in Venezuela where citizens can hear criticism against Chavez.

    As ALG News has previously reported, Valenzuela defended Venezuela’s crack down while serving at Freedom House, and sits on the advisory board of Americas Watch with George Soros, a group that supports reinstating Manuel Zelaya to power in Honduras.

    Senate Republicans may not have the votes to defeat these nominees. But they do have the right as senators to block a grant of unanimous consent on nominees whose opposition should be recorded forever in the pages of the Congressional record. These 14 deserve a closer look and dissent, not a rubber stamp.

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