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February 13, 2016

GOP Throws Rulebook at Obama to Block His Agenda

Republican resistance to President Barack Obama’s second-term plans intensified another couple of notches today.

Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced they would simply ignore a provision in the health care law calling on each leader to pick someone for a new panel with the power to dictate Medicare spending reductions without fear of congressional reversal.

The two said in a letter to Obama that such a bureaucratic maneuver was the best way they knew to protest the new Independent Payment Advisory Board, in light of their inability to kill it by repealing Obamacare completely.

At the same time, all eight Republicans boycotted this morning’s meeting of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which under a wrinkle in the rules prevented the panel from advancing Gina McCarthy’s nomination to run the EPA.

The protest came less than 18 hours after the Republicans on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions panel leveraged another obscure procedural obstacle to stop Thomas E. Perez’s nomination for Labor secretary from getting to the Senate floor.

The question for the GOP is whether those oppositional tactics, which are all about passive parliamentary maneuvering rather than overt ideological argument, will provide any traction for their policy objectives or if they will only succeed at further annoying an electorate wary of partisan hijinks.

Majority Leader Harry Reid sought to stoke that sentiment when the Senate opened for business. “This type of blanket, partisan obstruction used to be unheard of. Now it’s become, really, I guess, the pattern Republicans have adopted,” the Nevada Democrat said of the back-to-back committee delays.

In the McCarthy case, at least, committee Republicans forcefully rebutted the idea that their walkout was simply a dilatory stunt. Instead, they said, they were protesting the notion that her nomination should be hustled along before they got answers — promised at her confirmation hearing — about her involvement in her current EPA post with matters of transparency.

Republicans, who have made the agency a focus of their deregulatory efforts, say they have been too often stymied by officials denying or slow-walking requests from Congress or conservative advocacy groups for information.

They also note that Democrats used the same sort of boycott against George W. Bush’s nominee to head the EPA a decade ago.

In the Perez case, Wednesday’s delay appears designed to do no more than allow additional time for opposition to build. And the move appears to be working. McConnell signaled his opposition to Perez, the Justice Department’s top civil rights lawyer, and suggested the White House would need to find a filibuster-proof 60 votes. Perez would be the only Hispanic in the president’s second-term Cabinet.

  • Dave

    Obviously the GOP is determined to drive its approval ratings into the single digits. They don’t seem to realize garbage like this is the reason Obama’s approval ratings far exceeds theirs, as evidenced by yet another new survey:

    • disqus_lI3fxXkYMr

      I agree. As a friend said to me recently, what the GOP is really destroying is itself. It’s committing a slow-moving suicide.

  • Connor Vlakancic

    WOW, Really dumb from Hawkins: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell” Currently GOP Mitch is minority in the Senate. I shall be certain to ignore future anything with Hawkins name on it.

    • Lorehead

      This deserves a correction, but since he has the power to block everything and uses it constantly, it’s an easy enough mistake to make.

  • S1AMER

    How many more innocent bystanders will the Republicans destroy in their endless efforts to kill Obama’s presidency?

  • Alan

    Amazing! When Democrats do it as the state and federal levels, liberals and the media cheer.

  • Layla

    I support their efforts 100%. Now Impeach him.

    • jillibrown

      So you’re adverse to saving money and improving the efficacy of our health care system? It makes no sense.

    • aftermidnight

      Impeach “him” for what? Or doesn’t it matter?

    • Charles Jensen

      Why? Because the President is an educated black man? Remember, he won both elections (2008 and 2012) with more than 50% of the vote. The voters what his policies to be enacted.

    • Jeff Johnson

      What an idiot. Let me guess…republiCON, right? Thought so.

  • MrBeale

    These people are petulant cretins.

    Shame be upon them and all those who voted for them.

    • jillibrown

      Well hey, if the morons that voted for the likes of McConnell and Boehner, want to pay more for less effective health care, who are we to complain, eh? They’ll just retreat to their no holds barred alternate reality and continue to get screwed. Being a rube is obviously easier than educating themselves. Bless their hearts.

  • truevoice4real

    Republicans are useless…..

  • OldmanRick

    It’s Harry Reid’s do as I say not as I do thingy. What a hypocrite. Whoops, my bad. He’s a dim so all’s good.

  • Mary E Thomas

    I don’t blame GOP for doing what they can get away with….the problem lie with the dems, from president down to the grassroots. At some point, you’ve got to stand your ground on what you believe is to be done.

    President and congressional dems all the time talk about ‘bipartisanship or compromise.’ Who are they to compromise with….themselves. This GOP is treating the dems as an enemy, and are using military tactics to stop, mix up, lie, distort everything dems want to do.

    Take off the gloves dems, and treat this as war…war of ideas, governance. You can win this war. We voted for Obama/dems, and we expect you to deal with GOP as they’ve dealt with you. You’ve dropped the ball too many times, and given too much to GOP. Enough is enough.

  • jillibrown

    That’s ok, let them throw their tantrums. It works to the benefit no only to the Obama administration, but to all Americans interested in reducing health care costs and paving the way to single-payer.

    “The GOP can’t straightforwardly nullify or hobble IPAB by withholding or
    blocking nominees, the way it can and does with the Consumer Financial
    Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board. The IPAB can
    seemingly function with fewer than 15 confirmed members, and even if
    Senate Republicans filibuster all nominees, the ACA includes a backstop
    that basically allows the Health and Human Services Secretary to act as a
    one-woman payment board. So just as states’ rights-loving governors are
    ceding their sovereignty to the federal government instead of setting
    up insurance exchanges of their own, Boehner and McConnell are
    effectively handing power to the executive branch in lieu of doing what
    the law asks them and maintaining influence over the policy.”

    Please proceed republicans.

  • disqus_lI3fxXkYMr

    Since we’ll probably have Democratic presidents for the foreseeable future, it looks like Republicans are becoming more and more entrenched as the “Party of No”. They are OK with destroying America by ignoring the country’s very real problems. As an independently-minded guy, it gives me no joy to say this. But I think the only way America can move forward is with a Democratic majority in the House and super majority in the Senate. Otherwise, all this rancor, inertia and decline will just go on and on.

  • Mark Benford

    Editor: McConnell is the Minority Leader, not the Majority Leader.

    • garbage plate

      Wishful thinking on hawkings part.

  • John Walke

    Please do look beyond the surface “transparency” talking points levelled at Gina McCarthy’s nomination, to the real reasons disclosed by the actual Republican Senators’ demands. These demands are rooted in ideological attacks on EPA’s health and environmental authorities and whether EPA can enforce the law. The transparency complaints are just cover for some of the same extreme legislative proposals that House Republicans have been unable to enact into law. Republican Senators are now holding the McCarthy confirmation hostage to this same extreme conservative agenda.

  • Jb Feucht

    Being annoyed by the activities of the GOP is unpleasant. Being a member of the GOP is worse.

  • aftermidnight

    So the GOP’s entire accomplishment for the day was subverting the proper, legal functioning of our government, and the wingnuts are applauding this? That’s my reading of this article.

  • dsevilla

    Perez is not a Hispanic. He is a Spanglish.

  • Jeff Johnson

    I truly despise republiCONs at this point. They are, without any question whatsoever, the single greatest enemy threat that this nation has ever faced.

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