Tag: mike pompeo

Does the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Have an Obligation to Rubberstamp Mike Pompeo?

Marc Thiessen, a columnist at the Washington Post, is highly upset that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee may not approve President Trump’s nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State:

For the first time in the history of the republic [since the committee started recording votes in 1925], it appears increasingly likely that a majority of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote against the president’s nominee for secretary of state. If this happens, it would be a black mark not on Mike Pompeo’s record, but on the reputation of this once-storied committee.

Thiessen seems to think that the role of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and by extension the United States Senate, is to approve a president’s nominees. But of course, the Constitution provides that “The President … shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States.” The Heritage Foundation’s Guide to the Constitution affirms that “the Senate has complete and final discretion in whether to accept or approve a nomination.” The Foreign Relations Committee is today considering whether to consent to this nomination. The Senate as a whole may choose to reject the negative recommendation and consent to the nomination. (See also the novel and movie Advise and Consent, on TCM this Friday.)

It’s not that members of the committee don’t have legitimate grounds on which to withhold consent. Sen. Rand Paul, a key player as he is likely to be the only Republican on the committee to oppose the nomination, says:

Director Pompeo has not learned the lessons of regime change and wants regime change in Iran….

President Trump sought to break with the foreign policy mistakes of the last two administrations. Yet now he picks for Secretary of State and CIA Director people who embody them, defend them, and, I’m afraid, will repeat them. I will not support their nominations.

One need not agree with that criticism to acknowledge that it’s a reasonable concern on which to reject a nominee.

Thiessen is a former speechwriter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush, which might give him an executive-branch view of Congress’s role. Before that, however, he served for six years as spokesman and senior policy advisor to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, whose willingness to use his position to block presidential nominees was well known. He mentions Helms’s support of President Clinton’s nomination of Madeleine Albright for Secretary of State, but omits the nominees Helms blocked or tried to block, such as Massachusetts governor William Weld and former senator Carol Moseley-Braun.

Thiessen concludes his excoriation of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with a flourish: Assuming he is confirmed by the Senate, Pompeo “would be more than justified in determining that the State Department is best served by working closely with the appropriators and Senate leadership, and bypassing a committee that can’t make policy, can’t legislate and can’t lead.”

His real complaint, however, is not that the committee can’t lead. It is that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee won’t blindly follow.

Scapegoating ObamaCare

Here’s how Ezra Klein spins Sen. Max Baucus’ (D-MT) preditions of an ObamaCare “train wreck”:

The GOP can try and keep the implementation from being done effectively, in part by refusing to authorize the needed funds. Then they can capitalize on the problems they create to weaken the law, or at least weaken Democrats up for reelection in 2014.

In other words, step one: Create problems for Obamacare. Step two: Blame Obamacare for the problems. Step 3: Political profit!

It never ceases to amaze me how people who want government to plan our lives are horrified when government then interferes with their plans. Here’s one way to summarize Klein’s attempt to blame ObamaCare’s opponents for ObamaCare’s failures:

Step one: Pass a law the public opposes.

Step two: Act surprised when the public continues to oppose it.

Step three: Blame the public for the law’s failures. 

Or:

Step one: Enact an immense law requiring lots of implementation funding.

Step two: Don’t include any implementation funding.

Step three: Blame opponents for not funding the implementation. 

Ooh, this is fun:

Step one: Give government new powers.

Step two: Express frustration when those powers fall into the hands of your political opponents.

Step three: Put your political opponents in camps.

I wonder if Mike Pompeo will pen a letter to Klein, too.

Pompeo to Baucus: You Wrote this ‘Train Wreck’

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is having none of Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) trying to dodge responsibility for the coming ObamaCare “train wreck.” Here’s a letter Pompeo sent to Baucus yesterday:

Dear Senator Baucus,

     I was stunned, and also saddened, to read of your complaint that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is doing an insufficient job informing the public about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), otherwise known as Obamacare.  My shock wasn’t because I disagreed: You’re right to say this legislation has led to great uncertainty for hard-working Americans, small business owners, and families.  No, I was shocked because you wrote this bill.  I was saddened because your acknowledgement of the harm caused by PPACA has come so late.

     Unlike you, the American people have opposed this law from the moment it was first introduced in Congress.  How hard was it to see that even the smartest government bureaucrats can’t competently plan something as complicated as America’s health-care sector?

     President Obama’s proposal to rescind the Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments for 2014 is an admission that this law will not work as written.  The IRS is violating the clear language of this law by planning to spend more than half a trillion dollars and tax millions of employers and individuals without congressional authorization.

     No one in the country bears more responsibility for the complexity of this law than you.  When your supermajority couldn’t pass the bill using normal procedures, you and your Senate colleagues rammed through the final legislation by using parliamentary gimmickry.  Then, in the House, Speaker Pelosi cheerfully urged members to pass the legislation “in order to find out what’s in it.”

     This was not good policy-making, and now we’re seeing the consequences.

     Implementation is still going full steam ahead despite numerous problems—with your support.  Contrary to the legislation and the administration’s myriad promises, the SHOP exchanges have been delayed by a year.  Officials have admitted that they’ve gone from worrying over the color of fonts on a website to just making sure that the exchanges aren’t a “third world experience.”  Little to no information has been provided about how the exchanges will function.

     Each one of these problems results from legislation you authored and your colleagues supported.  And yet many Republicans, at every step of the process, issued warnings and condemnations based on exactly these inevitable problems. We warned that businesses would drop coverage. We warned that Americans would not be able to keep a doctor or plan that they liked. We warned that insurance premiums would increase.  

     Secretary Sebelius’s implementation of the law is certainly flawed, but the policy process produced a law that could not possibly be implemented successfully.  As legislators, it is our responsibility to write bills that clearly explain our meaning and have achievable goals.  By your own admission, this law is a disaster.

     Make no mistake.  Unless you act before it’s too late, the American people are going to hold you personally responsible for the failings of this law that negatively impact their jobs, their health, and their families.  You drafted it, you twisted arms to get it passed, and, until now, you have lauded it as a model for all the world.  Your attempts to pass the buck to President Obama’s team will not work, nor will they absolve you of responsibility for the harm that you have brought via this law.

     Republicans have repeatedly offered legislation to repeal PPACA and replace it with more sustainable reforms that would have bipartisan support.  Perhaps we can work together to fix this mess before it’s too late.  We stand ready to repeal the law and put forward legislation that will truly benefit patients and their doctors.

     I look forward to hearing from you.

     Sincerely,

     Mike Pompeo

     Member of Congress

     Kansas 4th District