White House, Senate majority leader continue battle over stalled nominees

The White House and Senate Democratic leaders renewed their battle over stalled nominees Wednesday, with the administration saying Democrats are using their opposition to one Justice Department appointment to leave more than 200 positions unfilled.

Democrats fired back that the GOP's insistence that certain nominees be confirmed despite serious objections was leading to the stalemate. At the center of the dispute are former Justice Department official Hans von Spakovsky, who was nominated to the FEC, and Stephen Bradbury, President Bush's choice for assistant attorney general. Democrats have objected to both nominations.

In a war of words Wednesday, the White House focused mostly on Bradbury, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., took aim at von Spakovsky.

"It seems to me that the Senate only cares about one nominee because they are willing to not fill over 200 positions in the federal government over the one position that they claim to have a problem with," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said, referring to Bradbury. Fratto called Bradbury an "incredible person, an incredible lawyer." Democrats have objected to his nomination because of memos he wrote authorizing questionable interrogation tactics for suspected terrorists.

Reid countered by suggesting that Republicans wanted the FEC stalemate to continue so the watchdog agency wouldn't be able to be effective in what is shaping up to be a tough election year for Republicans.

"I can gather one thing from the president's unwillingness to resolve the FEC problem," Reid said. "And that is that Republicans would rather have no election watchdog in place during an election year where they are not favored to win."

With van Spakovsky and three other nominees to the FEC hung up in the Senate, the commission has only two members and is unable to conduct most of its business. Democrats want to vote separately on the nominees -- two Republicans and two Democrats -- but Republicans maintain that Senate tradition requires a vote on the four as a package.

Bush apparently intends to keep the focus on the stalled nominees Thursday. Reid said one of the Democratic FEC nominees, Steve Walther, had been invited to a White House breakfast for all nominees whose confirmations are on hold.

"The effort it took to invite my Democratic friends and other nominees to the White House is truly a waste," Reid said. "The president's Thursday breakfast really only needed one attendee. That's because only one nominee really matters to the president. It should really just be an intimate breakfast between the president and Steven Bradbury."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

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


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