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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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."