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Lindsey Graham’s block complicates path for nominees

Sen. Lindsey Graham announced he will oppose nominees. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Sen. Lindsey Graham announced he will oppose nominees. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sen. Lindsey Graham’s TV-viewing habits are having quite the ripple effect. Had he not caught Sunday night’s “60 Minutes” segment about the deadly attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi — instead of,  say, a football game or perhaps Bravo’s new episode of  “I Dream of NeNe” — things might be looking different this week for a deep slate of White House nominees.

The South Carolina Republican announced Monday that he planned to hold up all nominees in the Senate until the survivors of the Benghazi attack are made available to testify before Congress.

First, some observers noted that Graham’s umbrage was perfectly timed for a week in which at least two controversial nominees are set to get Senate votes. They include Richard Griffin to be the top lawyer at the National Labor Relations Board and three judges to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, beginning with Patricia Millett.

Graham’s Benghazi huff comes just as his fellow Senate Republicans were making noises about stonewalling the D.C. court nominees. “Republicans should remain united in blocking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s attempt to pack the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” Sen. John Cornyn wrote last week in an op-ed on the FOX News website.

Coincidental timing, perhaps?

Beyond the immediate, controversial nominees,  there are a handful of key national-security posts that are all queued up.

At the Pentagon, there’s Jessica Garfola Wright to be undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, Marcel Lettre to be principle deputy undersecretary, and Deborah Lee James to be Secretary of the Air Force. And Suzanne Spaulding is awaiting a vote to be undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

Also ready for a vote is President Obama’s pick for Federal Communications Commission chairman, Tom Wheeler, though it seems that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is still holding up that vote, seeking answers from Wheeler about whether he would seek disclosures of who pays for political television ads.

Other high-profile nominees include Katherine Archuleta to head the Office of Management and Budget and Rep. Mel Watt (R-N.C.) to be director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

With nomination fights looming, these folks might want to get comfortable — and hope senators stick to watching Sunday night football.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.



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Emily Heil · October 28, 2013

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