Objection and obstruction

Republican objections to the Obama administration’s nominations seems to grow exponentially but they have one thing in common, the intention to obstruct the White House’s ability to govern.

This is the case with the nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte as ambassador to El Salvador. She was named as a recess appointment and must be confirmed by the Senate. The resistance shows just how ridiculous the arguments against the nominees can get.

Questions are being raised about Aponte’s relationship 20 years ago with a man who, according to rumors, was either an agent for Cuba or an FBI informant. That’s how specific the information is! How curious that this relationship is drawing more scrutiny now than during all of her past security clearance processes.

Another conservative criticism against Aponte has to do with her testimony in support of gay rights as part of the State Department’s mandate to recognize Gay Pride Month. Aponte praised the Salvadoran government for being a signatory to the UN declaration to eliminate violence against gays and lesbians.

The attack against Aponte’s nomination is similar to last week’s derailment of the appointments of Richard Corday to head the Office of Consumer Financial Protection and Caitlin Halligan for the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the Corday case, Republicans resist accepting that the financial reform law established this responsibility in the executive branch. The Senate minority refuses to approve any nomination until the power of the office itself is diluted and beholden to Congress.

In the Halligan case, the Republicans opposed this judicial appointment because of the nominee’s position on gun control and for her disagreement over former president Bush’s policy of arbitrary detentions.

All three nominees received more than 50% of the votes in the Senate but Republicans have turned the filibuster, previously used only in exceptional cases, into an everyday practice. Now the Democrats need to secure 60% of the votes in order to pass an initiative or a nomination, something that was not required before.

Republicans have incorrectly assumed they have a role of co-administration, which is wrong because there is only one party in the White House, and the role of the Senate – with its Democratic majority – is only to “advise and consent.”

It is normal for a minority party to object to policies that emerge from the president; but its completely unacceptable for that party to block nominations because it assumes a responsibility that rests solely with the executive branch.

At least through 2013, Obama has been elected to be the nation’s president and he must be allowed to govern.