Josh Hawley blocks Biden administration appointments


Missouri Senator Josh Hawley is slowing things down in the US Senate.

This summer, following the hasty withdrawal of the Americans and their allies from Afghanistan by the Biden administration, Hawley announced that he would hamper the Senate process of confirming otherwise uncontroversial candidates for the Departments of State and the United Nations. Defense, unless Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan have resigned.

It is a largely symbolic gesture. That doesn’t stop Biden from filling cabinet positions as much as it reduces the process to a tedious task.

Democrats can get around Hawley’s blockade by putting forward candidates for a recorded vote – it just takes Senate time because this hopes to pass Biden’s social safety net bill, fund the government, renew the National Defense Authorization Act and raise the debt ceiling before the end of the year.

But according to an analysis from the Kansas City Star, even when the nominees reach the floor, Hawley is extremely unlikely to vote for them.

The Missouri junior senator voted for only four of the 118 candidates who received a vote on the U.S. Senate floor, the least of all senators. He voted against every member of the Biden administration he later called to resign: Blinken, Austin, Sullivan and Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Several of Biden’s candidates drew opposition from broad bands of Republicans. For example, US Senator Roger Marshall, a Republican from Kansas, voted for only 19 of Biden’s caps.

But Hawley stands out, even compared to other Republicans like Sens. Rand Paul from Kentucky, Rick Scott from Florida and Ted Cruz from Texas. He has not voted to confirm a candidate on the floor since June 15.

“I don’t think these are good choices,” said Hawley. “I don’t think they would be good for my state, I don’t think they would be good for the country. There are a few notable exceptions. “

These exceptions are Cecilia Elena Rouse, the president of the Council of Economic Advisers and the first woman of color to hold the post; Katherine Tai, US Trade Representative; Lisa Monaco, the Deputy Attorney General; and Lina Khan, president of the Federal Trade Commission.

Khan is known as a leader in the antitrust movement and aligns with some of Hawley’s views on using antitrust laws to dismantle “big tech” companies. She rose to prominence after writing an article for the Yale Law Review titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox”. Hawley wrote a book called “The Tyranny of Big Tech”.

Tai is a longtime trade expert who, as the House Ways and Means Committee’s chief trade adviser, helped negotiate the recent US-Mexico-Canada deal under the Trump administration. . She is the only nominee whose confirmation was unanimous.

Rouse taught economics at Princeton and was the former dean of their school of public and international affairs. She was also a member of the Council of Economic Advisers to former President Barack Obama.

Monaco was chief of staff to the director of the FBI at the time Robert Mueller until 2009, when she assumed roles in the Obama administration. She worked for an international law firm before being appointed by Biden and advised clients like Apple.

Hawley said he did not believe there was a “unifying thread” between the four exceptions.

“Me, voting for them doesn’t mean I necessarily agree,” Hawley said. “These are not my choices. Just that I think they will do their job in a believable way and I think they won’t be great and they might have a chance to be decent enough.

‘Senator no’

It has become more common in the past 15 years for senators to block presidential candidates from an opposing party, according to Wendy Schiller, professor of political science at Brown University.

The use of obstruction to help build a national profile goes back even further, with notable examples like the late US Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, a leader of the Conservative movement who has been dubbed “Senator No.”

What has changed is the stated objective of the blockade. While Helms has often said no in order to obtain specific political results, Hawley seeks an extremely unlikely result.

“There have been senators who have essentially made their careers to stop the Senate in its tracks,” Schiller said. “But usually it was for something… they would get something tangible that they could claim credit for in the political community in Washington.”

It has become more difficult for individual senators to turn their priorities into legislation, which was lamented by U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, Senior Senator from Missouri. Often times, legislation is coalesced into one big bill at the end of Congress, negotiated only by House and Senate leaders, leaving many grassroots members out of the process.

Hawley’s blockade, however, is less about specific political goals and more about the punishment of the Biden administration.

It also sends a clear message to its base.

“His audience is different,” Schiller said. “This is the popular base of the party and it is true on both sides of the aisle. And it becomes so dangerous to accomplish anything. Literally you win if you lose.

Hawley is one of many Republicans seen as potential presidential candidates in 2024, but he is competing in the Senate for the attention of the Conservative base. Although he voted against more of Biden’s candidates than any other senator, other potential candidates like Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, also tried to block Biden’s candidates.

Cruz was blocking State Department candidates before Hawley, because the Biden administration lifted some sanctions against Russia for an oil pipeline, which caused frustration in the White House.

Now Hawley has also drawn their anger at a political move that is unlikely to achieve its stated goal.

“Senator Hawley is doing the Missourians a disservice when he prevents the confirmation of candidates who are supposed to ensure that St. Louis veterans receive the benefits they have earned or help Kansas City small businesses grow. recover from the devastation caused by the pandemic, ”said Chris Meagher, deputy White House press secretary. “Instead of voting for candidates on their merits and qualifications, Senator Hawley is playing politics at the expense of the people he was elected to help.”

Hawley said his vote against several of those appointed by the Biden administration was not part of a larger strategy.

“I just don’t support a lot of these people,” he said.

Bryan Lowry, of McClatchy’s Washington office, contributed White House reporting.

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