The world's most embarrassing legislative body
I've been focusing on the filibuster today, but Senate "holds" are almost as pernicious. For instance:
Of the 200 or so Obama nominations pending, some 75 have gotten through committee but were being held up for various reasons in the Senate, administration officials and congressional staff members said. During their last gasps of official business after the health-care vote on Thursday morning, senators cleared 35 nominees by unanimous consent — far short of the 60 that administration officials had been hoping to get through by the end of the year.
One of those finally approved was Miriam Sapiro, who had become the Obama administration’s prime example of stalled nominations since being chosen in April to be a deputy U.S. trade representative. Senator Jim Bunning, Republican of Kentucky, put a hold on the confirmation of Sapiro, an Internet policy consultant, to try to pressure the trade representative’s office to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization against Canada over a law that bans cigarettes with candy flavors.
The Senate has jurisdiction over a lot of things that most of its members don't care about very much. The deputy U.S. trade representative, for instance. And when senators have that much individual power, they can take a strong stand on things other senators don't care about in order to extract concessions on something they themselves do care about. And why would the other senators stop them? They like having that power, too. And so Sapiro's nomination stalled for nine months -- and the position went unfilled -- because Bunning wanted to sell more -- sigh -- candy-flavored cigarettes.
Photo credit: Linda Davidson/The Washington Post
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