We have known for some time now that the Right was targeting Dawn Johnsen, President Obama’s nominee to head the Office of Legal Counsel, for defeat. But what we weren’t aware of, until reading this post from the Family Research Council’s Tom McClusky, was that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn’t have the votes to get her confirmed:
Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is now telling reporters he does not have the votes to confirm Dawn Johnsen for Assistant Attorney General at the Justice Department. Ms. Johnsen has been a long time advocate for abortion rights groups, comparing pregnancy to slavery. She has also been outspoken on counterterrorism measures.
Of course, if you read the article he links to, you find out that Reid didn’t say he doesn’t have the votes to confirm Johnsen – what he actually said was that he doesn’t have the votes to prevent a Republican-led filibuster of her nomination:
As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) moves to ease a backlog of executive branch nominations, he suggested on Tuesday that he does not have the votes to bring up President Barack Obama’s pick to run the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel.
“Right now we’re finding out when to do that,” Reid said, responding to a question about the status of Indiana University law professor Dawn Johnsen’s nomination to the Justice post. “We need a couple Republican votes until we can get to 60.”
As Reid explained elsewhere:
“We need a couple Republican votes until we can get to 60,” Reid added. And it’s just a small number, maybe two or three. But at this stage, I don’t have all the Democrats. I have virtually all, but not all. And remember, we have 59 Democrats, and that’s not enough to do it.”
Reid has more than enough votes to confirm Johnsen if she can get an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, which is exactly what Republicans are trying to prevent with a filibuster.
According to his bio, McClusky has a long history of working in politics, including a stint as a political analyst for the Republican National Committee, so presumably he knows about Senate procedure and the difference between a confirmation vote and a cloture vote.
In fact, I ‘m pretty sure that he does, because just a few years ago, he signed onto a letter calling on Senators to ensure that Bush administration nominees received an up-or-down vote on the floor:
If you cannot support a particular nominee, vote him or her out of committee without a positive recommendation, or vote against confirmation. But please do not deny the nominee a fair up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. In other words, we ask only that you do your job by putting statesmanship above politics and special interests.
Is it too much to ask that the Vice President for Government Affairs at the Family Research Council not hypocritically and purposely mischaracterize what is going on regarding Johnsen’s nomination and the GOP’s obstruction efforts?
Apparently it is.