Senate Republicans blocked two White House nominations on Thursday, including Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Watt’s nomination, which went down on a 56-42 cloture vote, was highly politicized because the role includes overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Conservatives, including the Club for Growth, opposed the nomination because they said it would be inappropriate for a politician to fill such a role.
“I have said from day one that a technocrat, not a politician, should lead the FHFA, the regulator charged with overseeing the $5 trillion portfolios of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
Republicans also blocked the nomination of Patricia Ann Millett to be a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia by a cloture vote of 55-38. Sixty votes were needed to advance the nominations.
Republicans cited Democratic attacks against a GOP judicial nominee, Peter Keisler, who was filibustered because Democrats argued there was a light workload for the court and the position did not need to be filled. So, the reason Democrats want to approve Millett now is politics, Republicans argued.
“Our Democratic colleagues and the administration’s supporters have been fairly candid about it,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “They have admitted they want to control the court so it will advance the president’s agenda.”
The blocked nominations reignite a simmering fight in the Senate over whether to change the confirmation process to limit the minority party’s ability to block nominations.
Democrats reacted furiously to the failed procedural votes.
“It is disappointing that a sitting member of Congress with over 40 years of relevant experience was denied an up-or-down vote by a minority of senators today,” said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., in a statement. “It is not a secret that this vote was pure obstructionist politics at play.”
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The House voted down the otherwise uncontroversial Energy and Water appropriations bill Thursday after Democrats succeeded in attaching an amendment affirming LGBT job discrimination protections for military contractors. More than 40 Republicans supported the amendment, but when it came to vote on the bill, 130 Republicans joined all but six Democrats to sink the bill. Speaker Paul Ryan said Democrats voting against the bill after securing the amendment shows their intention was to scuttle the process. Democrats, however, blamed other so-called poison-pill amendments for their votes against the bill. Nonetheless, Ryan said he intends to continue the appropriations process.
"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.
"Airport screening delays have caused more than 70,000 American Airlines customers and 40,000 checked bags to miss their flights this year, an executive for the airline told a U.S. congressional subcommittee on Thursday. A shortage of staff and a surge in air travelers have created a nightmare scenario for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), with airport wait times in places like Chicago stretching beyond two hours."
"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."
That the minority leader curses the Senate with his "cancerous leadership." After Reid tried to halt a defense bill, Cotton took to the floor and blasted Reid, adding, "As a junior senator, I preside over the Senate. I usually do in the morning, which means I'm forced to listen to the bitter, vulgar, incoherent ramblings of the Minority Leader. Normally, like other Americans, I ignore them."