May 16, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - President Obama's nominee to lead the Energy Department won unanimous confirmation by the Senate on Thursday while two other Cabinet choices narrowly advanced out of committee, amid complaints from Democrats over Republican delaying tactics. Ernest J. Moniz, an MIT physics professor who becomes the new Energy secretary, is the fifth Cabinet appointment confirmed since Obama won a second term, and the first without any Republican dissent. By comparison, all but one of President George W. Bush's 11 initial second-term appointments were confirmed by the end of April, even though his party held no more Senate seats than Democrats control now. Republicans had delayed consideration of Thomas E. Perez, Obama's choice to lead the Labor Department, and Environmental Protection Agency nominee Gina McCarthy before Thursday's party-line committee votes to recommend them to the full Senate.
May 15, 2013 |
In requiring the U.S. Senate to confirm presidential appointments, the Constitution aims to ensure a second level of scrutiny of the qualifications of government officials. But Senate Republicans have hijacked the confirmation process, not only to thwart individual nominees but to undermine laws they don't agree with. If they continue in their obstructionism, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) should revisit the possibility of doing away with the filibuster for nominations. The most immediate test case involves the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that moderates disputes between labor and management.
May 9, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans boycotted a committee vote Thursday on President Obama's nomination of Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency, drawing accusations of obstructionism from Democrats. Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said McCarthy had not adequately responded to their requests for information, so they didn't show up for the scheduled vote. They want more information on how the EPA makes decisions on new regulations, how it has used private email to conduct public business, and other transparency issues.
May 7, 2013 |
President Obama has nominated venture capitalist Tom Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the cable and the wireless industries, to serve as head of the Federal Communications Commission. "Tom knows this stuff inside and out," Obama said. If that's true, I can only assume that high on Wheeler's to-do list will be a dismantling of the antiquated business model that forces cable and satellite subscribers to pay for dozens of channels they will never watch. It's also a system that can result in a favorite channel disappearing not because it didn't have an audience but because it didn't generate enough profit for a cable or a satellite provider.
April 18, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - President Obama's pick for Labor secretary, Thomas E. Perez, emerged unscathed Thursday from a Senate confirmation hearing that was more perfunctory than contentious. Conservatives have been critical of Perez, the administration's top civil rights enforcer, portraying him as a dangerous liberal who would be an overly assertive regulator at the Labor Department. But despite predictions that his confirmation could be acrimonious, there was very little of the tough questioning that Republican adversaries said he deserved.
April 11, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - President Obama's pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, faced tough questioning from Senate Republicans at her confirmation hearing Thursday, in a clear signal to the White House that they will continue fighting environmental regulations as vigorously as they did in the first term. Obama's reelection, the gradual revival of the economy and the effects of climate change have not altered the viewpoint of some Republicans that climate change is suspect and environmental rules kill jobs.