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March 16, 2010
1:38 PM


Drew Courtney or Josh Glasstetter
Phone: 202-467-4999

Senators Highlight Mistreatment of Obama Nominees

WASHINGTON - March 16 - In response to today's floor statements by Senators highlighting the unprecedented obstruction of President Obama's executive and judicial nominees, People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker released the following statement:

"President Obama's nominees have been treated worse than those of any other president. It's a simple fact. The GOP's historic obstruction of nominees cannot go on forever.

"Democratic Senators took to the floor today to express their outrage over the mistreatment of President Obama's nominees. They're getting fed up, and so will the American people as they learn more about the GOP's ongoing effort to cripple and obstruct this administration.

"One overwhelmingly successful cloture vote after another has revealed the truth about the GOP's filibuster strategy. Their filibusters aren't based on actual disagreements over policy or qualifications - they're done purely to waste time. One recently filibustered nominee, Barbara Keenan, was confirmed 99-0. Not even one Republican could be found to vote against a nominee they had just filibustered. That sort of blatant obstruction is truly incredible.

"Republican Senators should take a short trip down memory lane to 2001. Only three of President Bush's executive nominees waited longer than three months to be confirmed. Meanwhile, over 45 Obama nominees waited for at least three months, and many are still waiting to be confirmed to vital positions in the administration.

"If Republican Senators cannot be convinced by appeals to precedent, fairness, and reciprocity, Senate Democrats must highlight and overcome their obstruction. Today's show of unity by Democrats is an encouraging first step."

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Also see our recent memo on the GOP's unprecedented obstruction efforts:

GOP Obstruction of Executive Branch Nominees

From: Marge Baker, Executive Vice President, People For the American Way

To: Interested Parties

Re: GOP Obstruction of Executive Branch Nominees

Date: March 3, 2010

Despite the fact that Democrats hold a substantial majority in the chamber, Republican senators are blocking President Obama's Executive Branch nominees at a rate never before seen, according to a review of records by People For the American Way.

From 1949 (when Senate rules were changed to provide for cloture on nominations) through 2008, cloture votes have been forced on only 24 executive branch nominations. However, in just the first thirteen months of the Obama administration, there have been nine such cloture votes: Cass Sunstein (OMB), Robert Groves (Census), Harold Koh (State Department), Chris Hill (Ambassador to Iraq), David Hayes (Interior), Ben Bernanke (Federal Reserve), Patricia Smith (Labor), Martha Johnson (General Services Adminstration), and Craig Becker (National Labor Relations Board)

That's an increase of more than 2000% in the rate of forced cloture votes on nominations-24 nominations on which cloture votes were forced in sixty years compared to 9 in just over 13 months. Republicans are on pace to force 29 cloture votes by the end of Obama's first term.




An examination of President George W. Bush's term reveals that the Senate subjected only seven executive nominations to cloture votes for the entire eight years-compared to the nine in just the first thirteen months of the Obama Administration.

Another measure, cloture petitions filed, reveals an even more dramatic increase in the magnitude of the obstruction. Between 1949 and 2008, there were 36 executive nominations on which cloture was filed, while there have been 15 filed since President Obama took office.

Indeed, during all eight years of George Bush's presidency, there were only 15 nominations on which cloture petitions were filed compared to the same number in just over thirteen months of the Obama Administration. At this rate, President Obama can expect 51 of his first term executive nominees to face cloture petitions.

Moreover, the number of cloture votes/petitions may well go much higher-there are currently 69 nominations on the executive calendar. For more than 89% of these nominations it will be at least three months since each was nominated (Dawn Johnsen, President Obama's nominee to head the Office of Legal Counsel, is expected to be re-approved by the Judiciary Committee tomorrow. She was first nominated way back on February 11, 2009-well over a year.)

In addition to the OLC and other key positions at the Department of Justice, nominees to a number of other agencies have been blocked, including the Department of Defense, the International Monetary Fund, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Department of State, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Homeland Security.

This sort of obstruction is literally unprecedented for either party and should be stopped. It prevents executive branch departments from serving critical public needs, and it represents, essentially, an effort to overturn the results of the last election.

(This is an updated version of a memo released by People For the American Way on October 23, 2009.)


People For the American Way is dedicated to making the promise of America real for every American: Equality. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. The right to seek justice in a court of law. The right to cast a vote that counts. The American Way. Our vision is a vibrantly diverse democratic society in which everyone is treated equally under the law, given the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams, and encouraged to participate in our nation’s civic and political life. Our America respects diversity, nurtures creativity and combats hatred and bigotry.


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