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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Along party lines, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to tighten privacy standards for Internet service providers. "The regulations will require providers to receive explicit customer consent before using an individual’s web browsing or app usage history for marketing purposes. The broadband industry fought to keep that obligation out of the rules."
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that "there was “precedent” for a Supreme Court with fewer than nine justices—appearing to suggest that the blockade on nominee Merrick Garland could last past the election." Speaking to reporters in Colorado, Cruz said: "I would note, just recently, that Justice Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.”
The Democratic National Committee sued the Republican National Committee in U.S. District Court in New Jersey for aiding GOP nominee Donald Trump as he argues that the presidential election is "rigged." The DNC claims "that Trump's argument is designed to suppress the vote in minority communities."
"Two chief fundraisers for the Clinton Foundation pressed corporate donors to steer business opportunities to former President Bill Clinton as well, according to a hacked memo published Wednesday by WikiLeaks. The November 2011 memo from Douglas Band, at the time a top aide to Mr. Clinton, outlines extensive fundraising efforts that Mr. Band and a partner deployed on behalf of the Clinton Foundation and how that work sometimes translated into large speaking fees and other paid work for Mr. Clinton."