Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Stop abusing the confirmation process

Americans deserve a government that works, but that is not what they are getting. Despite President Barack Obama's re-election, Senate Republicans still are filibustering highly qualified Cabinet-level and judicial picks to hamper the executive and judicial branches. Government and the courts cannot effectively function without confirmed appointments. The confirmation process should be used to ensure candidates are qualified rather than to hamper the president's ability to lead.

Under Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senate Republicans have used the filibuster, which takes 60 votes to end, as an opportunity to partially nullify the president's re-election. There are more than 100 nominees, including Cabinet secretaries, judges and other top posts caught up in Senate confirmation delays.

Obama wants the Senate to promptly confirm three new nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the nation's second most important court after the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate Republicans would rather reduce the number of seats on the appeals court than allow Obama to fill them. While the president noted Tuesday that both political parties over the years have abused the confirmation process, Republicans complained Obama was trying to pack the court.

The president's frustration is understandable. Republicans block qualified nominees for the flimsiest of reasons, and they employ the filibuster to keep government agencies and oversight boards they don't like from operating. For example, they have vowed to block the confirmation of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to which he had earlier received a recess appointment.

The National Labor Relations Board, the five-member board that decides labor disputes, is another example. Republicans are so hostile to the board that they have denied it a working quorum. Obama has five nominees for the board, but it isn't clear whether they will ever get an up-or-down vote.

Exasperated Democrats are agitating for rule changes that prevent filibusters for presidential nominations. Normally it takes 67 votes to alter Senate rules, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is reportedly considering invoking what is known as the "nuclear option" to change the rules with a simple majority vote. The name stems from the negative impact doing this would have on the Senate, putting an end to any remaining bipartisanship and collegiality.

Changing the rules would remake the Senate in the image of the House, where the majority party controls every action — and majorities can change. What is needed is more common sense and less partisan maneuvering. Democrats should drop the nuclear option, and Republicans should quit abusing the confirmation process.

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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18