Senator Lindsey Graham vowed to block President Barack Obama’s nominees unless U.S. lawmakers hear from survivors of the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Graham, a South Carolina Republican, has criticized the administration’s handling of the attack, which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. On Fox News today, Graham said he would “block every appointment in the United States Senate until the survivors are being made available to the Congress.”
He couldn’t on his own stop the confirmation of any nominee. It takes 41 senators to block confirmation. Without those votes, Graham could still delay nominees’ consideration for several days.
The Senate may before the end of the year consider the nomination of Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve. An aide to Senator Rand Paul said Oct. 25 that the Kentucky Republican was considering whether to obstruct Yellen’s nomination unless he can get a vote on his bill to require regular audits of the Fed’s operations.
So far, Paul is the only senator to say he may try to block Yellen’s nomination, and no senator has joined Graham’s call to block all nominations.
Nominees pending before the Senate include those of Representative Mel Watt of North Carolina to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew to be a member of the International Monetary Fund’s board of governors and three candidates to sit on the Federal Communications Commission.
The nominations of Watt and Lew could be considered as soon as this week, along with Alan Estevez to be deputy undersecretary of defense, Katherine Archuleta to be director of the Office of Personnel Management, Thomas Wheeler to sit on the FCC and Patricia Millett to be circuit judge for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to a Senate Democratic aide, who requested anonymity because the schedule wasn’t public.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, today moved to end debate on those nominations.
Graham’s comments underscore the tensions between Senate Republicans and the White House over Obama’s nominees. A last-minute deal in July averted a partisan showdown and paved the way to confirm Obama’s nominees to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Labor Department and the Environmental Protection Agency and members of the National Labor Relations Board.
Reid said today obstruction had once again “reared its ugly head,” adding that the Senate would seek to confirm several nominees before taking a break for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.
“It’s no secret that the Republicans have systematically slow-walked or blocked scores of President Obama’s judicial and executive-branch nominations,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “It’s time to move forward without delay and fill these crucial posts.”
The Senate postponed a vote until tomorrow on the nomination of Richard Griffin to be general counsel of the federal labor board. Obama used his powers to fill vacancies during a Senate recess to appoint Griffin to the board, sparking Republican criticism and legal challenges on constitutional grounds. The July agreement included a commitment to have Griffin step down as a board member.