Senate War Over Presidential Appointees Heats Up as Two Nominees Are Blocked

Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., was nominated to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., was nominated to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Senate Republicans blocked two White House nominations on Thursday, including Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Watt's nomination, which went down on a 56-42 cloture vote, was highly politicized because the role includes overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Conservatives, including the Club for Growth, opposed the nomination because they said it would be inappropriate for a politician to fill such a role.

"I have said from day one that a technocrat, not a politician, should lead the FHFA, the regulator charged with overseeing the $5 trillion portfolios of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

Republicans also blocked the nomination of Patricia Ann Millett to be a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia by a cloture vote of 55-38. Sixty votes were needed to advance the nominations.

Republicans cited Democratic attacks against a GOP judicial nominee, Peter Keisler, who was filibustered because Democrats argued there was a light workload for the court and the position did not need to be filled. So, the reason Democrats want to approve Millett now is politics, Republicans argued.

"Our Democratic colleagues and the administration's supporters have been fairly candid about it," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "They have admitted they want to control the court so it will advance the president's agenda."

The blocked nominations reignite a simmering fight in the Senate over whether to change the confirmation process to limit the minority party's ability to block nominations.

Democrats reacted furiously to the failed procedural votes.

"It is disappointing that a sitting member of Congress with over 40 years of relevant experience was denied an up-or-down vote by a minority of senators today," said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., in a statement. "It is not a secret that this vote was pure obstructionist politics at play."

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 G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

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