Breaking: Harry Reid Might Have Found His Spine!

If you’ve noticed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid standing a little straighter lately, it might be that he found his spine, or at least something serviceable to stand in as a replacement.

In a move to prevent President Bush from bypassing the Senate whilst putting into place appointees to key positions, Harry Reid released a pretty significant statement today:

The Senate will be coming in for pro-forma sessions during the Thanksgiving holiday to prevent recess appointments.

My hope is that this will prompt the President to see that it is our mutual interests for the nominations process to get back on track.

While an election year looms, significant progress can still be made on nominations.

I am committed to making that progress if the President will meet me half way.

But that progress can’t be made if the President seeks controversial recess appointments and fails to make Democratic appointments to important commissions.

As Democratic leader, I recommend nominees to the President for many important commissions like the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

These independent agencies are required by law to have Democratic representation.

As a result, the President has a statutory obligation to honor my recommendations and move on them in good faith.

And, up until recently, the President has generally discharged that obligation.

In the last several months, however, the administration has been stalling progress on Democratic appointments.

This problem existed before the August break.

In an effort to solve it, I worked hard to confirm over 40 administration nominees in exchange for a commitment by the President to make progress on a number of important commissions.

When we reconvened after August break, I also worked to quickly move on the President’s new Attorney General.

I did this despite my own opposition to that nominee.

Even with all this hard work on our side, the commitments the administration made to me before August break were not met.

In the almost three months since that break, we have received no Democratic nominees to full-time commission positions.

For some, in fact, absolutely no discernable progress has been made.

With Thanksgiving break looming, the administration informed me that they would make several recess appointments.

I indicated I would be willing to confirm various appointments if the administration would agree to move on Democratic appointments.

They would not make that commitment.

As a result, I am keeping the Senate in pro-forma to prevent recess appointments until we get this process back on track.

Very nice, though, perhaps not quite nice enough.  Bob Cesca makes a very good point:

I thought the reason why Senators Schumer and Feinstein voted to confirm Mukasey was because they were afraid of a scary psychotic Attorney Godzilla recess appointment by the president.

But now Senator Reid says that he’s going to keep the senate in session — pro-forma — during the Thanksgiving holiday in order to block the president’s recess appointments. Where the hell was this when we needed it?

To which I can do nothing but agree.  The good news is that while Harry Reid was still searching for his spine while Mukasey was getting confirmed, there is one important name that will get stuffed by this.  From the Carpetbagger Report:

In the short term, this will almost certainly have an impact on Dr. James Holsinger, the president’s controversial Surgeon General nominee, who resigned from the board of the Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky, apparently because he believes he’s poised to take office. By all indications, the president planned to appoint him once senators went home for Thanksgiving. Now, he won’t get the chance.

I guess Dr. Holsinger probably shouldn’t have handed in his resignation quite so soon.  Just in case you forgot, why it’s probably a good thing that Holsinger is never confirmed to the spot of Surgeon General, Growing Sense does a nice recap:

Holsinger, you may not know, is the author of a white paper called Pathophysiology of the Homosexual Male, in which he tried to convince the Methodist church that all gay men are promiscuous and unhealthy. His “evidence”? A sample group that consisted of patients in places like STD clinics and hospital trauma units. Talk about finding what you are looking for.

So does this mean I’ve changed my tune on Reid?  No, I still think he is a pox upon our Democratic House (or, I guess more appropriately, our Senate), but at least for this one shining instance he did okay…  A little late, but okay.

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