Too many Senators from both parties take great pleasure in taking hostages for whatever their pet project or ideological goal of the moment is.
Hostage is the correct word.
Both parties, Democrats and Republicans engage in the activity and hold prisoner judges, cabinet officials, Ambassadors and other appointees.
On September 24, 2010, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) announced that she would block President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget until the administration eliminates or significantly modifies the moratorium on deepwater oil and gas drilling. This came after the nominee, Jack Lew, now Secretary of Treasury, was endorsed by the Senate Budget Committee on a bi-partisan 22-1 vote.
In November 2013, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham (R) placed a hold on the chairman of the Federal Reserve and the Secretary of Homeland Security after a CBS report on the murders of American officials in Benghazi, Libya.
Some of these nominees, particularly those living outside of Washington, D.C., have to put their lives on hold for months and even years. That means they cannot find a place to live or schools for their children or quit their current job until the Senate votes to confirm their nominations.
Jobs, schools, vacations, spouses work, all get thrown into suspended animation while waiting for what is a painstaking process of vetting, security clearances, and congressional investigations followed in all too many cases by Senatorial holds.
One of the most blatant examples is the Republican stonewalling of the nomination of Rose Gottemoeller for the position of Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.
Gottemoeller has been waiting since September 11, 2012. For those without sufficient fingers and toes, that totals over 520 days of waiting.
More even than those “500 Days of Summer” highlighted in a 2009 movie.
At least she is already in the Washington, DC area and holds her job as “Acting.”
Rose Gottemoeller is widely considered a superb public servant and has worked diligently to strengthen U.S. security and keep Congress informed of her work.
During her distinguished career, she has proven herself to be a skilled and tough-minded diplomat and scholar, with a dedicated commitment to U.S. security and a deep knowledge of matters related to arms control and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
In her capacity as chief negotiator of the New START treaty, Gottemoeller exhibited an unparalleled understanding of the complex American and Russian perspectives on the sensitive issues involved in ensuring U.S. national security interests through this important arms control agreement
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved her nomination — again — on February 4. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and James Risch (R-ID) objected although it was a voice vote.
They don’t loath Gottemoeller. Rather they want to demonstrate their opposition to Obama administration policies, including on arms control.
As indicated earlier, holding hostages is not a Republican blemish or a Democratic blemish. Both parties are guilty.
When the Senate considers reforms to speed up action, one improvement it should seriously consider: require the Senate to vote on all nominees within six months of their names being submitted to Congress and their paperwork is complete.
In extraordinary circumstances, the majority of the Senate could take a recorded vote to put off a nomination for another 60 days.
But the Senate should not consider nominees playthings for them to demonstrate their power or make a point.
Six months or out.
It is only humane and reasonable.