Now is the Time to Fix the Nomination Process
Posted at 8:45 a.m. on Nov. 8, 2012
Jonathan Bernstein argues that the most important procedural reform for President Obama is not doing away with the filibuster, which is almost meaningless with a Republican-controlled House, but rather addressing the broken confirmation process for executive branch nominees.
“The first step is dramatically reducing the vetting involved for selecting executive branch officials. Sure, you don’t want crooks. But presidents should stop worrying that something embarrassing will be revealed somewhere down the line; the truth is that, for the most part, that sort of thing becomes a one-day story that no one but the most intense partisans ever hear about… Senate committees have also been far too intrusive and demanding. Again, it’s counterproductive. Senate committees certainly should take their advice and consent responsibilities seriously, but overdoing the job only leads to pressure to give up Senate involvement at all.”
“And, yes, filibuster reform is needed, too. In my view, there’s simply no need at all for supermajority protection against partisan efforts to block an appointment. Preferably, the Senate would just return to the old norm in which presidents were allowed their choice of personnel, if not their choice of policy… The solution is easy: Lower the requirement for cloture on executive branch nominations to a simple majority of senators voting; continue to respect holds when they are attempts to bargain over substantive issues; but insist on cloture votes and moving forward if the minority party abuses the hold process to simply roadblock a nominee.”
Most importantly: “Democrats could achieve this reform with a majority vote.”