Stupid Hold Tricks
Robert Menendez has been a pretty sharp Senator, and I don't regret making calls for him in 2006. I do regret him falling back on failed tropes of the past to not only frustrate a new era of US-Cuba policy, but to inexplicably stop dedicated professionals from doing their jobs protecting the planet from pollution and climate change.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a strong supporter of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, is launching a full-on battle this week to remove several provisions from the 2009 government spending bill that would open a small crack in the slammed door of relations with Havana.
Menendez fired a broadside at the Obama administration yesterday for backing a provision buried in the $410 billion spending bill, which must become law by next week in order to keep the government running. The New Jersey senator, a Cuban-American, objects to language in the bill that would allow Cuban-Americans to visit relatives on the island once a year and end limits on the sale of American food and medicines in Cuba. [...]
The WaPo reports today that the senator has held up two Obama science nominees in an attempt to twist the arms of his fellow Dems.
First of all, Menendez is hopelessly behind the times. The majority of his fellow Cuban-Americans SUPPORT lifting the travel ban, because they understand that the policy of isolation has completely failed. So do wild-eyed liberals on foreign policy like Richard Lugar. But worse, Menendez is taking his temper tantrum out on two very qualified candidates who have nothing to do with this spat.
But Menendez isn't just making his case to continue with a failed policy, he's now blocking two White House nominees -- Obama's choices to be the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- to get the senators' attention on his Cuba-related concerns.
So, to summarize, Menendez supports Obama's nominees, but won't let the Senate vote on them until after he's done complaining about a subtle change in a foreign policy that hasn't worked after more than five decades of attempts.
Markos and Kevin Drum have more. The worst part of this is that you have a liberal Democrat abusing the ridiculous Senate holds process, which encourages others to do the same:
And he's not alone. It seems that multiple anonymous senators are now holding up Holdren and Lubchenco's nominations, as Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) told CQ:
"It's infuriating," said Rockefeller, who backs Holdren and Lubchenco's hiring. "They're brilliant scientists."
Science advocates said they are frustrated by the blocking of administration officials they argue are needed now more than ever. The holdup could slow timely science and environmental policy work between Congress and the administration, particularly the spending of roughly $21.5 billion dedicated to science in the economic recovery package.
Thanks a lot, Sen. Menendez. I hope it's worth it.
(Hey, maybe he and Fidel Castro can do a Bloggingheads about it...)