Grassley Rejects Charges of Finance Foot-Dragging on Nominees

Posted January 13, 2010 at 1:26pm

Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) rebuffed charges that his committee is putting President Barack Obama’s nominees through an overly exhaustive review process, saying the panel is taking the same steps it has always taken to vet nominees.

A report released Wednesday by the Partnership for Public Service says that while the Obama administration has installed political appointees about as quickly as did the Bush administration, too many top-level slots remained unfilled. The report places the blame for those vacancies partially on the administration and partially on the Senate, where Obama’s picks have run into lengthy vetting processes and political holds by Republicans.

The group argues that the Finance Committee’s vetting process in particular has led to lengthy delays. “In some instances, the Senate Finance Committee demanded extensive tax records going back many years and audits that ended up sidetracking some nominees and delaying others for Treasury posts,— the report says.

But Grassley Wednesday rejected that criticism, arguing in a statement that the committee’s protocol for nominations has been the same since for years and says suggestions to the contrary are a “myth.—

“The vetting process has been the same since January 2001 and maybe even before that. We ask for the same materials for every nominee. We ask for follow-up materials from some nominees, depending on what comes up. We don’t do tax audits,— the statement said. “Occasionally a nominee delays giving responses to the committee’s questions, or gives responses that generate more questions. That stretches out the vetting process. But it’s a myth that the committee is asking harder questions of Obama nominees than prior administration nominees over the last nine years.—

Grassley did, however, take a shot at the quality of Obama’s nominees, charging they have had more complicated tax issues than previous Bush administration nominees.

“The fact is, we’ve seen more and bigger tax-related problems associated with the current administration nominees than we’ve seen in the past,— he said.