- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 19, 2001

Republicans are threatening to block a spending bill if the Democrat-controlled Senate does not approve 60 languishing Bush appointees by the close of business today.
Republicans are hoping to thin the backlog of 140 executive branch nominees before the August recess, but if nominees are blocked on political grounds they will recommend that President Bush install the candidates himself when Congress is on holiday — a tactic used by President Clinton that often angered Republican lawmakers.
"Clinton did it, and I didn't like it, but if there is clear evidence Democrats are not operating in a fair fashion, absolutely he should make recess appointments," said Sen. Larry E. Craig, Idaho Republican.
The first list of 60 nominees submitted to the assistant majority leader, Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, was not made public, but contains all executive branch candidates cleared by committee hearings.
The second list contains 80 nominees who have not had hearings and is meant to "encourage" committee chairmen to move forward with the stalled process.
Mr. Craig and Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, succeeded in pushing through 54 nominees last week by engaging in the same strategy and holding up an Interior Department spending bill.
Democrats kept up their end of the bargain by moving on the nominees after the spending bill vote last Thursday, and Republicans said they expect the cooperation to continue.
If the 60 nominees are not confirmed, Republicans will block a transportation spending bill scheduled for next week.
"We will continue to use the rules of the Senate to force the issue because the administration needs its people," Mr. Craig said.
Mr. Bush has sent more than 400 nominations to the Senate, and 241 have been confirmed.
"I hope [Democrats'] foot-dragging days are over, because if their feet drag, so do ours," Mr. Craig said.
Mr. Kyl said he is also concerned about Democratic delays to confirm any of Mr. Bush's 29 judicial nominees. The only nominee to receive a hearing is Roger Gregory for a permanent seat on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Mr. Kyl yesterday put a procedural hold on a legislative branch spending measure until he is assured all nominations, including judicial candidates, receive speedy confirmations.
"While I commend Democratic leaders for making some progress on confirming some administration nominees, we still have a long way to go. Failure to promptly consider judicial nominees imperils the administration of justice," Mr. Kyl said.
"This does not have to be a challenge, and this does not have to be difficult. A Senate committed to bipartisanship should be able to move forward on these nominees without further delay," Mr. Kyl said.
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, endorses the strategy of trading Republican consent to move forward with the spending bills in exchange for pledges to vote on nominees.
"Right now the appropriations bills haven't been delayed by the nominations, and the nominations haven't been delayed by the appropriations bills. They are linked, but so far they haven't, you know, stumbled over each other," Mr. Lott said Monday.
Mr. Lott said he is also concerned about judicial nominees because several liberal Democrats are threatening to block the appointment of conservatives to the bench.
"I am still worried about the judges in particular, and the threatening tone from the Judiciary Committee. But we will continue to press [Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle] and the Democrats to move these nominations expeditiously, both through the committee and once they've reached the Senate calendar," Mr. Lott said.

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