Merkley calls rules change ‘victory for American people’

merkleyOregon Senator Jeff Merkley issued a statement congratulating himself and his colleagues in the Senate on changing the Senate rules regarding the filibuster in the middle of the nomination process.

According to Merkley’s press release, the Senate “changed its rules to allow nominations to be confirmed with a simple majority vote as provided for in the Constitution.” Merkley and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) are credited with leading the effort in the Senate to suddenly change its rules in order to give the president what he desires; however, the change was carefully announced as a means for the Senate “to become a more functional institution.”

“Today’s rule change is a victory for the American people,” said Merkley in a statement released on Thursday. Though Merkley does not provide details on how changing the rules mid-game is a ‘victory’ for the American people, he goes on to say that “endless abuse of the filibuster on nominations has done great damage to the independence of our courts,” while failing to acknowledge his party did the same thing in the past. “The minority party has filibustered too many qualified nominees to our Executive and Judicial branches, not because of any character or qualification issues, but because they were nominated by our current President.”

In Merkley’s estimation, the entire reason the Senate Republicans employed a filibuster on the president’s judicial nominees is simply due to the President nominating them.

Really, Sen. Merkley?

Perhaps a more thoughtful application of fact-finding can supply the actual reasoning behind the filibuster of nominees, who may have impressive qualifications, but may very well have scurrilous associations and activities deserving of further inquiry and investigation.

“The nominees that the Senate minority has blocked over the past year were nominated to positions that affect the American people and the economy in vital ways, including the nominees to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The judges on the DC Circuit Court rule on issues that directly and deeply impact middle class families, like health care, workplace safety, and clean air and water rules. Moreover, the endless filibusters have taken up endless weeks of the Senate’s time, better spent on boosting manufacturing, investing in our infrastructure, and improving education.”

It is true the lives of Americans and our economy are indeed affected by those the President appoints and the Senate clears.

The Tennessee Daily Independent recently reported the TVA’s decision to close 8 coal-powered plants in Alabama and Kentucky. TVA’s decision came as a result of more stringent regulations being applied by the EPA under Administrator Gina McCarthy, an Obama nominee to the post, whose initial nomination was on pending status until a deal was struck in the Senate – an effort led by Sen. Merkley.

While Merkley invokes a ‘victory’ for Americans on the rules change, perhaps he can explain to the 200 employees losing their jobs in Alabama and Kentucky due to Gina McCarthy’s leadership at the EPA (and dictates from the White House) how they can find ‘victory’ in their loss of income, and the new hardship being placed on them to find work – especially in an industry (coal) that is under siege by the administration via the EPA.

Coal is used in many aspects of manufacturing as well – manufacturing jobs being something Merkley highlighted as a matter the Senate needs to tend to; however, it is the same federal government, of which Merkley is a part, that has strong-armed those same industries through over-regulation forcing jobs to go elsewhere, slow down considerably or close altogether.

While Merkley inserts all the issues the President’s judicial nominees take up, it is no accident that the first item mentioned is ‘health care.’ With the indefensible disaster of the Affordable Care Act, which Merkley supported, there will indeed be challenges to the law at some point. How convenient, then, for the Senate majority – in an effort led by Sen. Merkley – to have federal courts lined with those the President hand-picked for the sole purpose of deflecting opposition.

In one week, Oregon has been the source of national embarrassment.

First, the state’s healthcare exchange, Cover Oregon, continues to be the laughing stock of the nation instead of the innovative model it was supposed to be. The website does not work; therefore, absolutely no one has signed up, as has been reported twice in the last three weeks in national news.

Second, an Oregon Senator prides himself on focusing on changing the rules of the Senate for the first time in history instead of actually focusing on the very items of which he feigns interest – except in times of political expediency.

“Ending the abusive filibuster on nominations is a big step toward restoring the functionality of the Senate, and that matters for all of us. I hope we continue to look at ways to make this legislative body work better. We face big challenges as a nation, and we need a Congress that can take on those challenges.”

The legislative body would work better if it worked within the limitations provided in the Constitution, Sen. Merkley. Your job description is in there. Read it and quit pontificating.