Rubio On Labor Secretary Nominee: We Cannot Move Forward With A Nominee Who Refuses To Comply With A Congressional Subpoena
Jul 17 2013
Rubio: “But to allow someone to move forward who is basically telling an oversight committee of Congress, ‘I don’t have to answer your questions, I don’t even have to respond to your letters, I ignore you.’ I want you to think about the precedent you’re setting. I want you to think about how that undermines the constitutional, not just the right, the constitutional obligation of this body to provide advice and consent on presidential nominees.”
U.S. Senate Floor Speech
Senator Marco Rubio
July 17, 2013
Senator Marco Rubio: “If ever there was an instance where someone’s nomination should not move forward, this is a perfect example of it. I’m not standing here saying [we] deny this nominee 60 votes because I think he’s a liberal activist. I do, and I think that is the reason he should not be confirmed. What I’m saying to my Republican colleagues is: I don’t care what deal you cut. How could you possibly agree to move forward on a nomination when the nominee refuses to comply with a congressional subpoena to turn over records about official business at the Justice Department? And by the way, we’re not confirming him to an ambassador post in some obscure country halfway around the world. This is the Labor Department. This is the Labor Department. I am shocked that there are members of my own conference that would be willing to go forward and ahead on a nomination like this, that are willing to give 60 votes on a nomination like this on a nominee that has, quite frankly, flat-out refused to comply with a congressional subpoena and answer questions that are legitimate and important.
“We are about to make someone the head of one of the most powerful agencies in America, impacting the ability of businesses to grow and create jobs at a time, quite frankly, where our economy is not doing very well. We’re about to nominate someone and appoint someone to chair that agency, to head up that agency, when that individual has refused to comply with a legitimate request. How can we possibly go along with that?
“I understand how important it is to protect the right of the minority party to speak out and block efforts that move forward. But my goodness, what’s the point of even having the 60 vote threshold if you can’t use it for legitimate reasons? This is not me saying, ‘I’m going to block this nominee until I get something I want.’ This is a nominee that refuses to cooperate, that flat-out has just ignored Congress and told them to go pound sand. And you’re going to vote for this individual to move forward until this question is answered? I would implore my colleagues – quite frankly on both sides of the aisle – because this sets a precedent.
“There won’t be a Democratic president forever and there won’t be a Senate Democratic majority forever. But at some point in the future you will have a Republican president, and they’re going to nominate people and those people may refuse to comply with a records request. And you’re not going to want those records? You’re not going to say – in fact, you have in the past blocked people for that very purpose. And so I ask my colleagues again, how can you possibly move forward on a nominee that refuses to comply with giving us the information we need to fully vet that nomination?
“This is a serious constitutional obligation we have. Do we have an obligation to the Senate and to this institution, being a unique legislative body? Absolutely. But we have an even more important obligation to our Constitution and to the role this Senate plays in reviewing nominations and the information behind that nomination and we are being blatantly denied relevant information. And we have colleagues of mine that say, ‘Doesn’t matter, move forward.’ This is wrong. It’s not just wrong, it’s outrageous.
“I would argue to my colleagues today, let’s not have this vote today. Let’s not give 60 votes on this nominee until he produces these emails and we have time to review them so that we can fully understand what was behind, not just this quid pro quo deal, but behind his public service at the Justice Department as an assistant attorney general, quite frankly confirmed by this Senate with the support of Republicans. This is not an unreasonable request. And for us to surrender the right to ask these questions is a dereliction of duty and it is wrong. If ever there was a case in point for why the 60-vote threshold matters, this is an example of one. And I’m telling you, if this moves forward there is no reason why any future nominee would not decide to give us the same answer. And that is, ‘You get nothing. I tell you nothing. I tell you what I want you to know.’ And then we are forced to vote up or down on someone that we do not have information on. And that is wrong.
“So there is still time to change our minds on this. I think this is a legitimate exercise of this, not forever, let him produce these emails, let us review these emails and then bring him up for a vote. And then you can vote on him whether you like it or not based on all the information. But to allow someone to move forward who is basically telling an oversight committee of Congress, ‘I don’t have to answer your questions, I don’t even have to respond to your letters, I ignore you.’ I want you to think about the precedent you’re setting. I want you to think about how that undermines the constitutional, not just the right, the constitutional obligation of this body to provide advice and consent on presidential nominees. And I think this is especially important when someone is going to be a member of the cabinet and overseeing an agency with the scope and the power of the Labor Department.
“And so I still hope there is time to convince as many of my colleagues as possible. I don’t hold great hopes that I will convince a lot of my Democratic colleagues, but I hope that I can convince the majority of my Republican colleagues to refuse to give the 60 votes to move forward and cut off debate on this nominee until Chairman Issa and the oversight committee gets answers to their questions that, quite frankly, we would want to know. They’ve taken leadership on asking these questions, but we’re the ones who have to vote on the nominee. They’re doing us a favor asking these questions. We should at a minimum stand here and demand that these be answered before we move forward.”