Republican Roy Blunt Takes U.S. Hostage
The President’s Cabinet includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments — the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Attorney General. The Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on any subject he may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office. None of this matters to Missouri Senator, Roy Blunt, as he uses an Obama Cabinet appointee, Gina McCarthy, as a hostage.
This marks the Senate Republican’s second attempt to block Gina McCarthy’s appointment. The first attempt was a boycott. All eight Republican members of the Committee on Environment and Public Works did not appear for a vote that would likely have moved nominee Gina McCarthy’s selection to the full Senate. The senators said she had refused to answer their questions about transparency in the agency. When that vote finally occurred, The Committee on Environment and Public Works voted 10 to 8 along party lines in favor of Gina McCarthy. The vote sent McCarthy’s nomination to the Senate floor. However, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) still has a hold on her nomination that will have to be withdrawn before a floor vote can occur.
Blunt and others in the minority insist on blocking the majority from even considering that consent, in hopes of using their intransigence as leverage for unrelated personal agendas. McConnell and Blunt have been among the minority of members blocking confirmation votes for numerous nominees including McCarthy, Circuit Judge Nominee Caitlin Halligan, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray, and several other exceptionally qualified nominees.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has built thousands of miles of flood control levees on the Mississippi River. It has also built a few floodways—areas where the USACE diverts floodwaters to take pressure off of its levees. While Missouri landowners who farm in the New Madrid Floodway want to see this project move forward, pubic officials in Illinois and Kentucky (who fear the New Madrid Levee will complicate federal flood response) and environmentalists (who fear the New Madrid Levee will collapse the fishery of the Middle Mississippi River) are urging the Obama Administration to put an end to the project once and for all. The public release of the analysis has been delayed due to major differences between the USACE and the resource agencies (like EPA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) over the number of wetlands impacted and the adequacy of the mitigation plan to offset those impacts.
So once again, America has Republicans holding us hostage while insisting on investing millions to build a levee to protect an area designed to be intentionally flooded. The basic safety needs of Alexander County, the City of Cairo, and surrounding communities should be prioritized over a levee closure to benefit a few wealthy landowners.