Dawn Johnsen’s nomination cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee months ago, and with Arlen Specter’s support her confirmation has been thought to be all but assured. Nevertheless, with the re-nomination process, Republicans will seek additional hearings, a perfect opportunity for them to fearmonger on terrorism:
“In recent weeks there have been several incidents threatening our national security and underscoring the need for more aggressive counterterrorism efforts, information sharing, and military and intelligence initiatives,” all seven of the GOP Judiciary members write, arguing that, “We believe many unanswered questions remain about Dawn Johnsen’s suitability to guide our Nation’s legal response to the war on terror. … Ms. Johnsen’s record calls into question her dedication to aggressive Executive action in national security matters.”
“For the Committee to properly discharge its advice and consent duty, we believe a second hearing is necessary to evaluate Ms. Johnsen’s nomination and approach to the serious national security questions currently facing this administration,” they added.
People For the American Way responded:
“This latest maneuver by Senate Republicans is anything but a good faith effort to protect national security. We absolutely face serious threats, and the Obama administration needs all hands on deck. Yet Senate Republicans are holding up crucial nominees like Johnsen and Erroll Southers, the president’s nominee to head TSA.
“Dawn Johnsen was nominated over 11 months ago, and Senators have had months following her hearing to seek additional information and to consult with her. That never happened. But now that the media is reporting that Johnsen has 60 votes for confirmation, Senate Republicans are suddenly interested in engaging her.
“The request for a second hearing is a transparent and brazen effort at obstruction, and too much is at stake to waste time on it. The seven Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have had their say – they voted in lockstep against Johnsen. But 60 Senators, including the senior Senate Republican, support her.”
It’s a fairly pathetic effort at obstruction. And keep in mind, this is for an executive branch nominee to run an executive branch agency. One can argue this is a massive overreach of the Constitutional dictates of the advise and consent clause:
[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
That has now encompassed not just cabinet heads, but hundreds of lesser appointees, which brings us to the paralyzing experience of so many parts of the executive branch still being incomplete a year after the Administration took office. This is flat ridiculous. The obstruction is being done purely to take up floor time and take away from actual policy. There is no material reason for it. Appointees are forced into a filibuster and then pass 88-6. It’s revolting, and has led precipitously to American decline.
The dysfunctional structure of government isn’t repeated enough in a political culture obsessed with personality.