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Tribune Editorial: GOP Senate refuses to do its duty

Published December 30, 2016 5:00 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Park City banker Al Landon is the local face of a national disgrace. Which is really too bad because absolutely nothing about it was his fault.

Landon was one of two nominations made by President Obama to the Federal Reserve Board. But, because the Republican-controlled Senate made it a point of pride to frustrate every act, plan and nomination of Obama's right up until the bitter end, neither he nor a fellow Fed nominee, University of Michigan economist Kathryn Dominguez, got so much as a hearing before a Senate committee.

Obama nominated Landon all the way back in January of 2015. Almost two years ago. The Senate responded with silence. If anyone there, or anywhere else, had a reason why either nomination was a bad idea, they had a long time to say so. No one did.

This senatorial discourtesy was another example of the dereliction of duty exhibited by the World's Greatest Deliberative Body as its Republican majority dissed the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Antonin Scalia seat on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Senate Republicans were never shy about what they were up to. Gridlock. For its own sake.

Toward the end, of course, Republicans could claim, with no historical or legal basis, that what they were doing was holding those seats, along with more than 50 federal district and appellate judgeships, open for the next president. Who, they hoped, would be a Republican.

For much of 2016, that looked like a fool's errand. But once Donald Trump rose from the electoral dead to claim the White House, it seemed a political masterstroke.

Clearly, Trump drew the votes of evangelical, Mormon and other socially conservative demographics who should have been repulsed by his personal behavior and history but who were promised more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court and other posts.

But that short-term gain comes at a cost. Public disgust toward government in general, and Congress in particular, can only be magnified. And Democrats, who gained two seats in the Senate last month, may learn an unfortunate lesson. They may decide to copy, rather than repudiate, the appointment gridlock in anticipation of perhaps gaining a majority — as the party out of power often does — in 2018.

Trump won, and to the victor goes the spoils. Or at least the power to appoint. Democrats should consider those appointments seriously, rejecting those who are unqualified or extreme, approving those who make the grade.

Come 2020, the Trump administration should be judged in large part on the people it hired. Senate Democrats should not be so obstructionist as to make the analysis impossible.




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