Friday, October 21, 2011

Senate Confirmation

John Bryson has finally been confirmed as Commerce Secretary. Matt Yglesias:
Recall that Bryson was nominated way back in June. He was nominated for a post that is only ever the subject of political controversy when a Census with redistricting implications is underway. He was nominated at a time of maximum distance from a Census controversy. Not only was it an utterly uncontroversial job, he was an utterly uncontroversial choice—a kind of old-time moderately conservative businessman with some environmentalist leanings. But Senate Republicans vowed to block him anyway. Not because they had objections to him, but because they wanted unrelated policy concessions. Specifically they wanted ratification of trade agreements that the Obama administration already supported. Since President Obama had already agreed to GOP demands, it was extremely difficult for him to give in to GOP demands. Then Republicans made a new demand that the trade deals couldn’t be ratified unless congress also stopped offering Trade Adjustment Assistance funding. At that point, Bryson was being held hostage to the ratification of trade deals that were being held up by Republicans! So the post languished vacant for months. Then finally the trade deals got signed late last week. . . .

Someday, maybe, we’ll adopt a form of government in which jobs aren’t regularly deemed so crucial as to require Senate confirmation but sufficiently trivial as to be allowed to have nobody doing them for years.

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