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Another Day, Another Disappointing Political Ploy Obstructing Progress

Dan Pfeiffer discusses the news that one Senator is holding up 70 nominees over some projects in his state.

Yesterday, just hours after the Senate voted 96-0 to confirm Martha Johnson as the Administrator of the GSA after a pointless 9-month delay, we learned that Sen. Richard Shelby from Alabama has placed a blanket hold on all nominees, including national security nominees, to use as leverage for some projects in his state.  He's holding up 70 nominees, among them top intelligence officials at the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.  According to the National Journal, he’s holding them up until two defense contracts that would benefit interests in his state can be fast-tracked.

Let's be clear: Sen. Shelby is preventing qualified nominees who will help protect the American people from being confirmed.  He’s not alone, though.  This is just the latest example of this kind opposition for opposition’s sake that the President talked about earlier this week..  This strategy of obstruction is preventing qualified people from doing their jobs on behalf of the American people and it’s preventing real work from getting done in Washington.  Every minute spent needlessly blocking noncontroversial nominees, many of whom go on to be confirmed by 70 or more votes or by voice vote (nine of the President’s nominees so far), is a minute not spent on the issues that matter to American families. 

As I noted yesterday, this is true of the legislative process, too.  The Senate cast more votes to break filibusters last year than in the entire 1950s and '60s combined, making it nearly impossible to come to agreement on key legislation.

Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director