Saturday, December 16, 2017
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: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

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Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

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Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17