The Senate Heath, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will vote Thursday on President Obama’s nomination of Thomas Perez, currently head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, to head the Department of Labor. There are a majority of Democrats on this committee, so Republicans will not be able to obstruct this nomination from making it out of the committee. But then Perez moves to the full Senate for a confirmation vote, where he faces an almost-certain obstructive filibuster.
In recent days Republicans have blocked Environmental Protection agency nominee Gina McCarthy by boycotting a committee vote. With New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg out due to illness, this kept the committee from having sufficient members to hold the vote. They are also blocking judges from confirmation (and even nomination). Earlier they filibustered Caitlin J. Halligan, nominated to the federal appeals court judge in the District of Columbia. They are filibustering other nominees as well as refusing to participate in the nomination process entirely (usually senators recommend nominees from their state to the president but Republicans are refusing to participate), leaving 82 judicial vacancies.
The public is starting to become aware of the extent of the obstruction that has been occurring – Republicans filibustering everything and everyone. So Republicans are moving from blatant obstruction to obstruction-under-cover, like the boycott of the committee vote on McCarthy. One new tactic is to shower nominees with written questions — up to numbers in the thousands — and then complaining that they either didn’t get sufficient responses or are not satisfied with the responses they did get. EPA nominee McCarthy received over 1,000 questions, 653 from just one senator.
So Perez will likely be obstructed from becoming the Labor Secretary, McCarthy will continue to be blocked for EPA and crucial judicial vacancies will remain unfilled.
And then there is the situation with the NLRB… Republicans are also obstructing nominations to the National Labor Relations Board, to keep the agency from being able to function. Please click through to Next Week’s Opportunity To Get Our Labor Board Operating Again for the story.
It is up to all of us to help make the public aware of the obstruction that is occurring. Then the public can do their part, by either putting pressure on Republicans to stop the obstruction, or letting them know they approve. Which one do you think the public will choose?