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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/12/16

Senate Republicans: Do Your Job

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There's a vacancy on the most important court in America, and the message from Senate Republicans is crystal clear: forget the Constitution.

In fact, their response to one of the most solemn and consequential tasks that our government performs is to pretend that the Supreme Court vacancy -- and President Obama himself -- do not exist.

But this isn't a new problem, and it's not isolated to one Supreme Court seat. For seven years, Republican senators have bowed to extremists who reject President Obama's legitimacy and abuse the Senate rules in an all-out effort to cripple the Administration and paralyze the federal courts.

In 2013, only one year into the President's second term, Republican leaders flatly rejected the President's authority to confirm any judges to fill any of three open seats on the second-highest court in the country. Democrats had to change the filibuster rules to move nominees forward. Once Republicans took over the Senate in 2015, judicial confirmations nearly ground to a halt.

The same is true for non-judicial nominees. Republicans have held up the President's nominees to run the Department of Labor and the Environmental Protection Agency, largely on the suspicion that those highly-qualified individuals might actually help those agencies do their work. Republicans have held up nominees to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Republicans regularly hold up the confirmation of dozens of ambassadors, undermining our national security and our relationships with other nations.

Last year, Republicans blocked confirmation of the Attorney General, the highest law enforcement official in the country, for 166 days. That's longer than it took the Senate to consider the prior seven Attorneys General combined.

The message from Senate Republicans couldn't be clearer: no matter how much it damages the nation, no matter how much it undermines our courts, no matter how much it cripples our government or lays waste to our Constitution, they will not acknowledge the legitimacy of our democratically-elected President.

For too long, Senate Republicans have wanted it both ways. They want to nullify the Obama Presidency while claiming that they can govern responsibly. That game is over. Extremist candidates motivated by bigotry and resentment are on the verge of winning the Republican Party's nomination for President, and Republican Senators must now make a decision.

Because here's the deal: extremists might not like it, but Barack Obama won the Presidency in 2008 by nine million votes and won re-election in 2012 by five million votes. There were no recounts or hanging chads, no stuffing the ballot box or tampering with voting machines, no intervention from the Supreme Court. President Obama was elected the legitimate President seven years ago, and he is the legitimate President right now.

So if it's true that some Republican Senators are finally ready to stand up to the extremism that denies the legitimacy of this President and of the Constitution, I say to them: do your job. Vote on a Supreme Court nominee. Vote on District Court judges and Circuit Court judges. Vote on ambassadors. Vote on agency leaders and counterterrorism officials.

If Senate Republicans want to stop extremism in their party, they can start by showing the American people that they respect the President and the Constitution enough to do their job in the United States Senate.

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Elizabeth Warren was assistant to the president and a special adviser to the Treasury secretary on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She single-handedly set us this bureau, putting in place the building blocks for an agency that will (more...)

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