- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 5, 2001

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle yesterday pronounced dead the nomination of Eugene Scalia, son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, for Labor Department solicitor.
"I don't think the votes are there at this point," Mr. Daschle told reporters. "And so I don't know that it merits a lengthy debate."
The development is the latest of President Bush's nominations to be stalled or blocked by Senate Democrats. The Senate has confirmed 28 percent of the White House's judicial nominations this year, far below the percentage approved for previous administrations at a comparable point in time.
Republicans said they will not allow the Scalia nomination to die without a fight.
"This is just an outrage," said Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican. "This is petty politics making the son pay for the perceived sins of the father."
Democrats charge that Mr. Scalia's nomination was payback for his father's vote in the Supreme Court's decision last year that helped to end the deadlocked presidential race in favor of George W. Bush for president. Republicans say Democrats are blocking the nomination in retaliation for Justice Scalia's vote.
An administration official said last night that Sen. Judd Gregg, New Hampshire Republican, has placed a "hold" on Mr. Bush's nominations to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in an effort to force union-friendly Democrats to call up Mr. Scalia's nomination.
"It holds up some of our nominations and that's unfortunate, but that's the way it works," the official said. "I think it's a pretty good strategy, because the Teamsters are really interested in the NLRB, and Gene Scalia doesn't matter to them."
Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said he made the assessment against holding a confirmation floor vote for Mr. Scalia after consulting with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The panel approved Mr. Scalia's nomination by one vote in October.
Said Mr. Santorum, "It's going to be a long year on Senator Kennedy's legislation" if Mr. Scalia does not get a floor vote.
Mr. Bush has gone out of his way this year to be solicitous of Mr. Kennedy and his family, even naming the Justice Department's headquarters last month in honor of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
Mr. Scalia is a labor lawyer for the law firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, and has served as a special assistant to U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr.
Mr. Daschle denied yesterday that Democrats are punishing Mr. Scalia for his father's vote last year that helped to decide the presidency.
"It has nothing to do with anything other than his qualifications, and the view by many [Senate Democrats] that Mr. Scalia is not qualified for this particular position, especially given his position on ergonomics and a number of other worker-related rules," Mr. Daschle said.
At a confirmation hearing in October, committee Democrats sharply questioned Mr. Scalia's disdain for proposed federal ergonomics regulations. The rules governed repetitive-motion workplace injuries and were implemented by President Clinton by executive order shortly before he left office.
Congressional Republicans repealed the regulations shortly after Mr. Bush became president this year.
Senate Republicans said Mr. Scalia deserves a vote in the full Senate and that they will try to force that action on Mr. Daschle through a procedure known as a discharge petition.
"I think he's entitled to a vote," said Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican. "He's been reported out of committee. I've not heard of a nominee reported out of committee who's not come out for a vote. I'm going to examine ways to bring him to the floor over the majority leader's objection."
Also, the Republicans' strategy of holding up nominees to the NLRB prevents that five-member panel from functioning at full staff. The independent agency, whose rulings affect labor unions, now has two vacancies.
"What they're doing is putting pressure on Democrats because of the importance of the NLRB," the administration official said. "We're not saying Mr. Scalia has to win, but he has already been passed out of committee and there should be a floor vote on the longest-held Bush nominee, who was nominated six months ago."
Liberal groups have apparently succeeded in blocking one Bush nominee for the NLRB. J. Robert Brame III has withdrawn his name from consideration for the labor board post, according to the administration official.
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State said Mr. Brame has a "long-standing leadership of religious-political extremist groups on the farthest fringes of the religious right."
Mr. Brame, a lawyer and previous NLRB member, has been associated with two religious conservative groups, Atlanta-based American Vision and the Plymouth Rock Foundation of Massachusetts. The administration official said Mr. Brame may still be eligible for a recess appointment to the NLRB.
Sen. James M. Jeffords, Vermont independent who voted for Mr. Scalia in committee, called Mr. Daschle's announcement yesterday "interesting."
"I said I would vote for Scalia," Mr. Jeffords said. "That's the end of it."
Mr. Santorum called the Democrats' action "below the dignity of the standard we have here in the United States Senate."
At Mr. Scalia's hearing in October, Mr. Kennedy said Democrats had "serious concerns" about the candidate's record.
"His views are outside the mainstream on many issues of vital importance to the nation's workers and their families," Mr. Kennedy said.
Mr. Gregg called Mr. Scalia a "public servant at heart" and said he is "uniquely qualified" for the position. He defended Mr. Scalia's critique of the workplace rules as "not outside the mainstream."
Audrey Hudson contributed to this report.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide