BlueGreen Alliance Denounces Senate GOP Leadership Obstructionism

Five members of the BlueGreen Alliance call on Senate Republican leadership to stop blocking progress on administration and judicial nominees.

June 13, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC (June 13, 2013) – Today, five members of the BlueGreen Alliance, including the United Steelworkers, the Sierra Club, the Utility Workers Union of America, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the United Autoworkers, called on Senate Republican leadership to stop blocking progress on administration and judicial nominees. The obstruction has hindered nominations to cabinet positions, including the EPA Administrator, Secretary of Labor and National Labor Relations Board nominees, as well as blocking judicial nominees, making the existing caseload unmanageable for many courts.

“It’s unfortunate that Republican leadership continues to put politics over the good of the American people,” said David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “We need leaders in these vital positions to move our country forward, and these delay tactics put workers, the environment, and our economy at risk. Instead of stalling, Senate Republicans should swiftly process their nominations and help them by putting forward measures that create jobs, strengthen and renew efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and better protect public health.”

“There’s a crisis at the National Labor Relations Board and it’s a direct result of Republican Senators’ failure to lead,” said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers. “Refusal to act in the Senate is undermining the ability to protect workers everywhere — especially at the NLRB and the Department of Labor. More and more, vacancies at key agencies go unfilled while less and less is getting done to ensure safe workplaces and communities.”

“Key positions created to hold big corporations accountable, shield consumers from fraud and keep working Americans safe are currently vacant and ineffective because of Congressional inaction. If the Senate is truly interested in giving American families the full protection of the law, they’ll break the logjam and confirm the qualified nominees to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board, and courtrooms across the country,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club.

“This obstructionism brings our most basic democratic processes to a halt,” said D. Michael Langford, National President of the Utility Workers Union of America. “Too many legislative priorities remain tied up in a flawed Senate procedure. The Senate’s failure to confirm highly qualified agency nominees and judges is unacceptable and must stop immediately.”

“‘Advice and consent’ has been replaced by delay and obstruct. There is simply no excuse for the Senate Republican leadership preventing the courts and key federal agencies from being able to carry out their duties at full strength. In the case of EPA, Senate Republican tactics have resulted in an unprecedented delay in confirming Gina McCarthy even though she served under Republican governors and the Senate had already confirmed her for a related post. This is not a rational way to run a country,” said Peter Lehner, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Once again, Minority Leader McConnell has threatened to derail the confirmation of a highly qualified individual to a federal agency, the Department of Labor,” said Bob King, President of the United Auto Workers. “Right wing Republicans have vowed to block Tom Perez’s nomination and they seem determined to make sure our government cannot govern as intended by our Constitution and as desired by the vast majority of US citizens. In case after case the Republicans are grossly abusing filibuster rules to block hundreds of President Obama’s appointments — both judicial and important department appointments. Their goal is to make our government less and less effective in protecting and responding to the needs of our citizens. They then turn around and blame President Obama and the Democrats for an ineffective government! Vicious, unethical, and unprincipled politics over the good of our country!

“There has been a very concerted attack on worker rights by those who only want corporations and the wealthiest to benefit from worker productivity instead of sharing productivity and profitability with all who contribute to make the productivity and profitability. Not satisfied with the tremendous decline in workers in unions, which has led to a dramatic decline in living standards and the middle class in the U.S., Republicans and their right wing allies want to make sure the Department of Labor is unable to fully function and enforce our country’s workplace safety and employment laws. This issue is of crucial importance to all working families across America — both for workers who are in a union and workers who are not. Tom Perez’s nomination must be allowed an up-or-down vote and the Republican attack on the effective functioning of our government must be confronted and stopped. If necessary, Majority leader Reid must change the filibuster rules to allow our Constitution and government to function effectively as intended!”