Generally, a president ought to be given wide latitude in staffing his cabinet and federal agencies. But sometimes a nominee will have some issue in their background that prompts a senator to say, “No, I’m sorry, I just can’t support this.” We’ve seen disputes over Tim Geithner and his tax issues, Eric Holder and his willingness to disagree with his bosses, Kathleen Sebelius and her large donations from a late-term abortionist.
I would note that “obstructionism” doesn’t just come from Republicans.
Gary Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs banker and Treasury Department official in the Clinton administration, was nominated on Dec. 18 to lead the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
In March, his nomination cleared the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees the CFTC, but the full Senate hasn’t held a vote because Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) is blocking his appointment. He said Gensler isn’t the right man for the job because as a Clinton official he sought to exempt derivatives known as credit default swaps from regulation. Sanders blames this absence of regulation for the collapse of insurer American International Group and the government’s subsequent rescue of the firm “in the largest taxpayer bailout in history.”
I mention this not to argue for or against Gensler, just to note that at some point in the near future we will hear some Obama team official argue that the GOP is hindering the performance of the administration by holding up their nominees. But the “hold” rule, which allows one senator to block an appointment, is a bigger problem than any partisan passions.