Weekly Column: Obstruction in the Senate Does More Harm Than Good
Since even before President Donald Trump took office in January, the Senate has been attempting to work through the confirmation process for his Cabinet secretary nominees so we can get to work on the important policy issues to get our country moving in the right direction again. Filling the Cabinet is critically important for the executive branch to function effectively. In addition to their advisory duties, Cabinet members lead their respective departments, create policies that guide each unit and manage programs within their respective departments.
I take very seriously the Senate's role in providing 'advise and consent' to the president's Cabinet selections. However, as a former governor, I generally believe that a chief executive has the right to choose his or her Cabinet and that nominees should be allowed an up-or-down vote. The Senate’s job is to assure each candidate is qualified to assume the offices for which they are nominated.
The idea of a Cabinet dates back to our first president, George Washington, who had a group of four advisors who assisted him in fulfilling his duties as president. President Trump’s nominees have unfortunately undergone the slowest Cabinet confirmation process since President Washington took office.
If you have monitored the news recently, you’ll note that confirming President Trump’s nominees has been a slow-moving process, as Senate Democrats continue to do all they can to slow their confirmations, regardless of their experience or qualifications for the jobs they have been nominated to fill. I understand that some Senate Democrats may have differing policy objectives than some nominees, but rather than voicing those concerns, they have slowed down the entire confirmation process for nearly all nominees, with very few exceptions.
Historically, the Senate has worked with an incoming administration to fill their cabinet picks. In fact, every incoming president from James Garfield in 1881 to Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 had all of his Cabinet officials confirmed on day one of their presidencies. By this point in his first term, President Obama had all of his Cabinet secretaries confirmed. As we all know, elections have consequences. I understand that some of my colleagues were not pleased with, nor expected, the result of our recent election, but it’s time to put aside political gamesmanship and work together on behalf of the American people we all serve in Congress.
This historic obstruction prevents Congress from working on issues important to many Americans, such as regulatory reform, tax reform, repairing Obamacare and fixing the VA to make it better for our veterans. These are issues that drove millions of Americans to the ballot box in November in support of President Trump, and issues that I have pledged to work on throughout my time in the Senate. I am ready and willing to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to accomplish these goals. Additionally, when federal agencies do not have leadership in place, policy decisions important to citizens are delayed in their delivery.
The Senate is historically known for its decorum. Though individual senators may disagree with one another on policy, comity reigns in this body. I’d like to think that all of us share similar principles, especially when it comes to a peaceful transition of power. We will all benefit by finalizing the president’s nominees in a timely manner so we can get to work on the issues that will have a positive impact on the lives of all Americans.