News / USA

Senate Confirmations Often Become Political Battles

Senate Confirmations Often Become Political Battlesi
X
January 29, 2013 9:25 PM
President Barack Obama is eagerly awaiting Senate confirmation for several Cabinet nominees, including Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, Jack Lew as secretary of the treasury and John Kerry, who was approved Tuesday by a panel as the next secretary of state, with the full Senate to vote soon. VOA's Jim Malone reports that the Senate confirmation process, however, often has become politicized.

Senate Confirmations Often Become Political Battles

President Barack Obama is eagerly awaiting Senate confirmation for several Cabinet nominees, including Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, Jack Lew as secretary of the treasury and John Kerry, who was approved Tuesday by a panel as the next secretary of state, with the full Senate to vote soon. The Senate confirmation process, however, often has become politicized.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the Senate has the power to advise and consent on nominations put before it by the president, including Cabinet nominees.

For much of U.S. history, senators generally deferred to the president’s wishes when it came to Cabinet or Supreme Court appointments.  That began to change in the 1980’s, though, said American University presidential historian Allan Lichtman.

“Well traditionally, of course, presidents usually get their way with appointments, and that remains the rule. However, since the 1980’s, confirmations have become more bitter and more political,” said Lichtman.

Bruising battle

That trend began with the contentious 1987 battle over conservative Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court, which Senate Democrats defeated.

Former Senator John Tower was blocked as defense secretary two years later under the presidency of George H. W. Bush.

In 1991, Clarence Thomas was confirmed as a high court justice, but only after a divisive fight in the Senate.

In recent years, both parties have seen confirmation battles as fair game, said analyst John Fortier of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

“Before it was often thought that you would give the president the choice as long as it was within a certain range of acceptableness. Today, many, many people from the opposition party oppose a lot of nominations,” said Fortier.

Partisan politics

Historian Lichtman said the increasingly contentious nature of confirmation battles in the Senate is another example of the sharply divided political age in which we live.

“We have now in America what I call the 'perpetual campaign.' There seems to be no deference to a president or to presidential appointments even in-between elections. We are always campaigning and if a nominee looks like a convenient target, why not?” asks Lichtman.

Fortier said the next major confirmation battle could come if and when Obama has an opportunity to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court.  The high court remains sharply divided with five justices generally voting along conservative lines and the other four justices often supporting a more liberal view in cases.

“That will be the real battle, especially if it is a conservative justice retiring with the potential of being replaced by a more liberal justice. That is the type of confirmation battle that will raise to a top national issue,” he said.

In his first term, Obama won confirmation for two Supreme Court justices, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. So far, though, none of the current justices has indicated any intention to retire.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid