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Mr. MERKLEY. Madam President, I rise today to decry the attack of my Republican colleagues on the executive branch of the United States of America. The Constitution, which we are sworn to uphold, calls for a balance of power between three branches of government--the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch. In it, it gives us a certain ability to test the fitness of high appointees to the executive branch. That is the advise and consent clause of the Constitution.
The Constitution does not have a delay and obstruct clause. It has an advise and consent clause. That means we have the responsibility, on a timely basis, to review high appointees to the executive branch and give our opinion. If we vote a person down, then indeed that nomination does not go forward.
What we have here is not a sincere application of advise and consent. We have a systematic effort underway to undermine the credibility and the capability of the President's team here in America.
This is a list of nominations that is being held up. This is not one nomination here and one nomination there. These are dozens and dozens of key appointees who will make the executive branch operate. Let's look at some of these. The Federal Election Commission, the Department of Energy, the Small Business Administration, the National Labor Relations Board, the Legal Services Corporation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Army, the Executive Office of the President, the Amtrak Board of Directors, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Farm Credit Administration, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of State, the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the National Council on Disability, the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Fellow Americans, I think you get the picture that this is a list in a systematic effort to undermine the ability of the executive branch to do its job. If we simply look back at the nominations on which we have had to file cloture and hold a vote in this Chamber, two-thirds of those nominees have passed by more than 70 of this body.
Many of them had 80 or 90 votes because there was no sincere objection to this individual, be it he or she, in a number of these departments. But it was a systematic effort to delay the capability of the executive branch of the United States of America. That is unacceptable. We are not empowered as a Chamber, in this Constitution, to delay and obstruct and prevent the executive branch from doing its job.
I call upon my Republican colleagues who are conducting this attack on the President and his team to honor their constitutional responsibilities to advise and consent, to take this list and if there are a couple of key nominees that you have serious concerns about, then indeed let's have that debate here on the floor. But these dozens need to be set free to do their job. That is how the balance of powers is envisioned in the Constitution.
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