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June 13, 2013

Sierra Club Demands End to Obstruction of Nominees in Senate

On December 6th, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed a piece of legislation in the Senate Obstruction Ad that would allow the debt ceiling to be raised. Just a few hours later, McConnell stood up on the Senate floor and filibustered his own legislation, effectively killing the bill that he had authored.

On May 9th, eight Republican members of the Senate Committee for Environment and Public Works refused to do their jobs, failing to attend the confirmation hearing for EPA nominee Gina McCarthy and delaying a confirmation vote.

The ridiculous state of affairs in the Senate has reached comic proportions, and its having an impact not just on the prospects for new legislation, but on laws that are already in place. That’s because McCarthy’s not alone. Obstruction and inaction in the Senate has resulted in dozens of highly qualified nominees - tapped by President Obama to lead everything from the EPA to the National Labor Relations Board to courthouses across the country - being blocked from doing the jobs they were appointed to do. That doesn’t just mean vacancies at key watchdog agencies - it means the key safeguards those agencies are supposed to enforce are threatened.

In a new ad published today in the Roll Call newspaper, Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said it best: “We can’t hold big polluters accountable or protect the rights of American workers and consumers if we’ve got no cops on the beat...The Senate Majority needs to break the logjam and confirm the President’s qualified nominees to fix the Senate and show the American people they can still get things done.”

The facts are simple: they key safeguards we’ve fought for to protect our air, our water, our wildlife, and our planet are supposed to be enforced by agencies that are left without leaders because of Senate inaction. That’s why the Sierra Club is continuing to advocate for an end to the obstructionism.

A member of the Fix the Senate coalition, the Sierra Club is working with labor, civil rights, and other public interest organizations to demand an end to not just obstructionism on President Obama’s nominees but also filibuster reforms that will stop the legislative logjam in the U.S. Senate.

The ad pictured here is part of a series launched by the “Give Us 5” campaign - which includes a forthcoming ad from the NAACP - that focuses on increasing support for confirmation of stalled nominees for the National Labor Relations Board and highlighting the ongoing obstruction of candidates like Gina McCarthy.

Gina McCarthy has worked for both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. She has 25 years of experience protecting our air and water and has been praised by environmental groups, utility companies and Reagan-era officials alike. If there has ever been a qualified, bipartisan nominee, it is her. Yet, the only reason her confirmation has been delayed is politics.

It’s time the obstruction ended and we let government do its job. The Senate Majority can take action to end the inaction, fix the outdated Senate rules, and prove to the American people that they can actually get something done. The Sierra Club is proud to be working with a diverse coalition of allies to tell them to do just that.


--Sierra Club Media Team Intern Lauren Lantry

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