11.29.2017 0

Why is the Senate refusing to do their job and confirm judicial and executive branch nominees?

By Natalia Castro

The Senate has played a vital role in stalling the Trump agenda and preventing the swamp they swim in from being drained. One of the greatest struggles President Trump has faced in moving his plan forward has been an inability to fill vacant positions within the executive branch, with positions such as the NASA Administrator, Export-Import Bank President, and others still vacant. These individuals are qualified and ready to do their jobs, and if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not allow them to, he is committing a vital injustice against all Americans.

The lack of movement on judicial nominees has been a frequent point of contention — so far, only 16 judges have been confirmed — positions within the executive office have also gone unfilled. Currently, the Senate has 94 pending nominations on the executive calendar, many which were added to the schedule as far back as June 2017.  The Senate must break from its bubble and realize the direct effect the lack of action is having on the American people.

In May, President Trump sent the nomination of Russell Vought to the Senate to serve as the Deputy Director for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Vought had hearings before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Committee on Budget in early June; however, after being reported favorably by both committees, Vought has not been moved forward to confirmation since June 21.

Vought has served as Policy Director for the House Republican Conference under the Chairmanship of Mike Pence and has worked on the Hill for over 12 years. The Deputy Director of OMB is a position Vought is qualified for, and his presence would be an asset for the Trump Administration as Congress debates tax overhauls as well as funding the government in the weeks before Christmas.

As Deputy Director, Vought would have the vital role of stepping in when OMB Director Mick Mulvaney is occupied. This is something that needs to be done immediately since Mulvaney has had to step in to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to prevent former leader Richard Cordray from using a loophole to put his hand-picked successor in place.

The Senate needs to act immediately and confirm Vought, so the President is certain that this extraordinary individual is able to help set the nation’s spending priorities.

Similarly, the Senate has left Representative James Bridenstine without an avenue to move forward in his nominated position as Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Bridenstine has had an extensive career in Naval aviation, flying combat missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In his home state of Oklahoma, Bridenstine continued to serve as Executive Director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium and was elected to represent the state’s First Congressional District.

Following Bridenstine’s hearing, co-chairman of the Space Power Caucus Congressman Doug Lamborn noted, “I’m thrilled to support Jim Bridenstine in his nomination for NASA administrator. He’s a champion of conservative principles for space access and exploration, and I’m confident he will provide strong national leadership… This is a tremendous step forward for the United States in regards to space and I encourage the Senate to confirm him quickly.”

He has now been waiting three weeks for what should be a quick vote on the Senate floor, despite all his credentials, and the fact he was reported favorably out of committee in early November. NASA needs Jim Bridenstine at the helm to put it back on course to achieve its mission, and there are no reasons to delay his confirmation.

Partisanship within the Senate has prevented even previously favorable nominees from moving forward. Patrick Pizzella is the perfect pick to be Deputy Secretary of Labor; he served as Acting Chairman of the Federal Labor Relations Authority since 2013, when a Democratic Senate led by Harry Reid unanimously confirmed him by voice vote.

Pizzella’s confirmation hearing was held on July 13, 2017; marking over four months since the last Senate action on his position. Following the hearing with the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Committee Chairman Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) praised Pizzella, noting “Pizzella brings a wealth of relevant experience in both Democratic and Republican administrations.”

Months later, nothing has been done. The Labor Department is crucial to achieving the President’s economic agenda, and Pat Pizzella served eight years in the Department under President George W. Bush and former Secretary Elaine L. Chao. There is no excuse for further delays in confirming perhaps the most qualified nominee in history to serve in the number two role at the Labor Department.

Representative Scott Garrett, who was nominated to head the Export-Import Bank in June, has also been waiting for action from the Senate. After waiting nearly five months, the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs finally held Garrett’s hearing on November 1.

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning praised his nomination saying, “The corporate crony Ex-Im Bank needs to be led by someone who will stop the rubber stamp processing of loans, bringing a fresh view to ensure that the interests of the people of the United States are served rather than just the interests of the multi-national corporations using its U.S. incorporation to qualify…  Scott Garrett is the right choice to make certain that the Ex-Im Bank operates the way it should, protecting U.S. interests first, and he should be immediately confirmed to lead the Ex-Im Bank.”

Upon calling the offices of Congressman who spoke highly of these nominees such as Lamar Alexander and Doug Lamborn, their responses were vague and inconclusive, with staff claiming Democrats are merely obstructing the agenda and scheduling conflicts that make votes difficult.

Considering Obamacare repeal and replacement has failed, the border wall is not fully funded, and Trump has over 40 judicial nominees waiting for confirmation as well; it is not a far stretch to wonder what precisely the Senators have been doing that has kept them so preoccupied from one of their easiest duties.

All four of these individuals should be passing through the Senate with flying colors; there is a Republican majority and it only takes fifty votes to confirm each of them, there is no reason Democrats should be able to obstruct Trump’s critical agenda by blocking his key personnel choices. It is time for the Senate to confirm each of these four outstanding nominees before Santa hits the rooftops of D.C. if they want to avoid getting coal in their stockings. Over a year ago, America voted to put Donald Trump in the White House, it is absurd that patently qualified choices for top level positions in his administration are still being delayed.

Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.

Copyright © 2008-2022 Americans for Limited Government