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McCain Warns Nominations Holdups Could Hurt GOP

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Sen. John McCain warned his Republican colleagues that blocking President Barack Obama's nominees could come back to haunt them if the GOP takes control of the Senate and the White House next year.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said last week that he has privately warned fellow GOP Senators not to go overboard in blocking President Barack Obama's nominees noting it could hurt a future Republican president.

"I have talked to my colleagues," McCain said. "For example, there is a candidate for the secretary of Commerce who wouldn't have been my choice, OK? But the president deserves to have his nominee unless there is a compelling reason not to. And I warn my colleagues, [if] you are going to vote against people just because you don't like them and they don't share your philosophy, you better be careful that that may happen to you when you have a Republican president."

McCain's comments came a few hours before the Senate confirmed John Bryson for the Commerce post on a 74-26 vote.

Nominations have long been a partisan battleground, but McCain's warning comes as Republicans look to retake the Senate and the presidency in 2012 amid some favorable political conditions.

Bryson's nomination had been held up by Republicans since May as leverage to get Obama to deal with free-trade
agreements long sought by the GOP. Other Republicans, including Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), objected to Bryson on other grounds, citing his past as a co-founder of the environmentalist Natural Resources Defense Council.

Democrats have complained about other GOP-blocked nominations ranging from judicial posts to more obscure ones, such as the public printer who heads the Government Printing Office as well as Republican obstructionism on jobs bills and minor legislation on small businesses and economic development earlier this year.

Public Printer William Boarman was a recess appointment to the post last year after the GOP held up his nomination, first made in April 2010. But Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Johnny Isakson (Ga.) are still blocking his confirmation because of an unrelated dispute over the nomination of a Republican to the National Labor Relations Board.

More than 40 Senate Republicans also pre-emptively vowed to block any nominee to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unless the Dodd-Frank financial reform law is amended to weaken the post.

Both sides have sparred over just how obstructionist the GOP has been and whether Democrats will face blowback if they are in the minority because of Reid's penchant for trying to limit debate and for preventing votes on GOP amendments using a procedure known as "filling the amendment tree."

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