This goes beyond partisan polarization to damage to the fabric of governance and worse — to damage to the vital interests of the United States. U.S. relations with Russia are at a crucial point across a range of foreign policy, commercial, human rights and other issues — and our remarkably well-qualified and tough-minded nominee for the ambassador post, Michael McFaul, has been held up by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) despite those qualifications, leaving the post vacant and U.S. interests far less well-served than the country needs and deserves. With Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s illness, our ability to influence policy and governments in our own hemisphere is at a critical point—and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has held up not just Aponte but our ambassador to the critical country of Equador, leaving national interest less well-served. In a revolting display of partisan narrow-mindedness, our ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, a courageous and distinguished foreign service veteran who put his life on the line when the uprisings against the Bashar Assad government began, went for months in limbo before the Senate GOP released the holds and let him be confirmed.
Kudos to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who has worked for years to reform the nomination and confirmation process and walked the walk by voting for cloture on the Eisen and Aponte nominations. The opposite of kudos to GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Dick Lugar (Ind.), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and others who once were champions of good governance and have also spoken out about the craziness of the current confirmation process but fell into line on the Aponte vote. And shame on a Senate which went from blocking a well-qualified nominee for an appeals court judgeship via filibuster to blocking a superbly qualified nominee for the consumer bureau, to yet another in a series of ambassadors stymied via holds and filibusters. This is no way to govern.
Norman Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
Rep. Bill Cassidy has his blood drawn by Alesha Barbour during a free hepatitis screening in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Congressional Viral Hepatitis Caucus to recognize "National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day."
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