Dawn Johnsen’s Nomination Is Officially Dead
It has been obvious for a long time now that Pres. Obama had no intention of fighting for his own nominee’s confirmation, but now Johnsen’s nomination is formally a dead letter. According to Senate rules, any nominations not confirmed by the end of the legislative session must be carried over to the next one by unanimous consent. Those candidates whose nominations are left behind must be re-nominated by the President, or they are dead.
Thirty-four nominees were carried over for confirmation in the second session of the 111th Congress. Dawn Johnson was not among them.
The link is via Digby, who sadly notes:
On the politics, one hates to jump to conclusions but it is very curious that in virtually every single issue area, the administration goes out of its way to reject the people and items that are at the top of the liberal agenda. It’s hard to believe that it’s an accident.
It would be great for Obama to renominate her and fight publicly for her confirmation. He could even provoke a fight over the filibuster as part of the bargain. It would also be great if I woke up tomorrow morning and was 25 years old again. Somehow I think it’s a long shot.
Why did Obama nominate Johnsen, then, if he did not intend to support her or at least make a show of fighting for her nomination? Back to bmaz for the likely answer to that question:
Even assuming Harry Reid had no alternative but to return the nomination, the better question is how did it get to this point, and why has the White House and Senate been so disingenuous about it? The only rational conclusion at this point is that killing Johnsen’s nomination is precisely what the Obama White House desired. The White House intentionally left to rot, and then outright killed, their own nominee.
The evidence of this is pretty damning. Dawn Johnsen’s nomination had languished, twisting in the wind, for 280 days as of the time her nomination was killed by Harry Reid, far longer than any other Obama nominee. The only notable recent support for Johnsen from the White House came in a statement by White House Counsel Greg Craig on October 11, 2009, a weak statement saying only that the White House “would not withdraw” her nomination. Craig was subsequently fired and, hilariously, attempted to be scapegoated by Rahm Emanuel for – wait for it – not getting nominations like Johnsen’s confirmed.
Can’t blame Republican obstructionism for this one — Democrats were only one or two votes shy of the 60 needed to break the filibuster:
Moreover, the bleating by Harry Reid and the Obama Administration that it is all the fault of mean old Republican obstructionism simply does not hold water. The Democrats hold a 60 seat caucus block, sufficient to overcome Republican obstruction. Of those, the Main Justice article is quite clear there were only two Democratic problem children, former Republican Arlen Specter and the ever whiny Ben Nelson, who never passes up an opportunity to betray his party. That means there were potentially only 58 Democratic votes for Johnsen’s nomination. But Republican Richard Lugar firmly supported Dawn Johnsen, so that makes 59 votes, only one shy of confirmation.
In addition to Lugar, both Republican Senators from Maine, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, have refused to rule out voting for Johnsen and were being lobbied hard by extremely influential women’s groups and liberal constituents. Both Collins and Snowe have a history of agreeing, when pressured, to allow up or down votes on Presidential nominees, even from Democrats.
Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel had 59 votes in favor of Dawn Johnsen’s nomination, a distinct possibility of picking up Collins, Snowe or both, and are more than aware Arlen Specter needs big help in his reelection campaign in Pennsylvania and that Ben Nelson can always be bought. And despite all of the above, the Obama White House did not ever request Harry Reid to call a vote. The only rational conclusion from this is the Obama White House did not want Dawn Johnsen, their own nominee, to be confirmed.