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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

In post-nuclear Senate, Obama nominee thumbs nose at lawmakers -- By Byron York, The Washington Examiner

"Welcome to the post-nuclear Senate," said a GOP aide after the confirmation of Jeh Johnson as Secretary of Homeland Security. Johnson's nomination was one of the first to be considered after Majority Leader Harry Reid used the so-called "nuclear option" to override the Senate's rules and end the use of filibusters on executive and judicial nominations. Now, nominees can be confirmed by a simple majority vote.

Winning passage wasn't a major issue for Johnson; he was confirmed 78 to 16. But because of Reid's move, Johnson could go into the process knowing he didn't need a single Republican vote to be confirmed. If Johnson could be confident that he had at least 51 of the Senate's 55 Democratic votes -- he actually had all of them -- he didn't need to pay attention to Republicans at all.

And so he didn't.

During his confirmation process, when minority Republican lawmakers made routine requests for information -- the kind of requests a nominee would have wanted to satisfy in the past, just to avoid trouble -- Johnson had no worries. On November 15, several Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- Charles Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Jeff Sessions, John Cornyn, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz -- sent Johnson a list of more than 50 questions, most of them about immigration, that had not been answered during Johnson's confirmation hearing. "We appreciate your pledge of 'transparency and candor with Congress,'" the senators wrote, "and look forward to your prompt response."

In a December 12 letter, Johnson essentially blew them off. "I note that your letter contains about 57 specific questions including subparts," Johnson wrote. "Respectfully, given that I am a nominee and private citizen, and not part of DHS, I am unable to respond to your letter question-by-question, but can instead provide you with my more general views, as they exist at this stage." In several pages of mostly boilerplate responses, Johnson said things like, "I support common-sense immigration reform" and "If comprehensive immigration reform is enacted, and if I am confirmed, a priority for me will be the effective implementation of that reform."

It should be noted that some of the questions sent to Johnson were quite detailed. Perhaps he could not have given specific answers to all of them. But the senators immediately knew Johnson's offer of "general views" was a brush-off.

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