Republicans Hold Fire on Rice, but Controversy Still Looms

Without any leverage to block Susan Rice from succeeding Tom Donilon as President Obama's national security adviser, Republicans appeared resigned to her appointment Wednesday, but unready to let go of doubts about the administration's leadership on national security issues.

Some of Obama's staunchest attackers in Congress—who have held the handling of the Benghazi, Libya, attack as Exhibit A of a major security failure worsened by an apparent effort to protect the president's reelection campaign—did not come out swinging Wednesday.

"Obviously, I disagree with POTUS' appointment of Susan Rice as national security adviser, but I'll make every effort to work with her on important issues," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in a tweet.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., took a similar tack on Twitter.

"Ambassador Rice did a disservice to the nation when she made misleading statements about Benghazi," she said. "However, it's POTUS' call and I'll work with her going forward."

Other Republicans, like Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Bob Corker of Tennessee, declined to make any reference to the lingering controversy and simply welcomed her to the new position.

Republicans shot down a potential nomination of United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice for secretary of State last year over questions about her role in first describing the Benghazi attack as a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video, rather than a planned terrorist attack.

GOP strategists said Republicans were not surprised by the appointment and recognize they cannot stop it, since the position is not subject to Senate confirmation. But they do not expect the issue to die down and, if anything, the selection only intensifies Republican animosity toward and lack of trust in the administration.

"Republicans see this as a slap in the face because of the Benghazi fiasco and how Rice tried to propagate talking points that seemed to be viewed more for protecting the president's campaign than really getting down to what happened," said Ron Bonjean, a GOP strategist. "Republicans will question her credibility when it comes to national security issues—that her judgment is off and it could add to controversies in the future if there are questionable national security moves made by the White House."

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said Rice likely faces a chilly reception on Capitol Hill, especially since her selection to the post clearly appears designed to avoid the Senate confirmation process.

"I don't think she is one who is likely to immediately have a lot of support on both sides of the aisle, for the reason that she said a lot of things that turned out not to be true," he said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.