Embarrassment to the GOP
While the House of Representatives does not have a role in the
process of confirming individuals to high-level government positions, I feel compelled to
object to Senate intransigence with regard to a particular nomination, both because of the
significance of the nomination itself and because of the reflection it casts on Senate
procedures and American politics.
First with regard to the individual involved, it should be stressed that the president of the United States had designated a superbly qualified former governor to be our embassador to Mexico. Bill Weld stands out for his intellegence, integrity and distinguished public service.
In selecting a Republican, the president has wisely determined to act in a bipartisan fashion. He is to be congratulated.
The irony that a Senate controlled by the same political party as the nominee has not even given Governor Weld the courtesy of a public hearing reveals an intolerant aspect of public discourse today. It is an embarrassment to the Republican Party and the Congress.
In addition, the capacity of a single United States senator to prevent a nomination from being considered underscores the need for the Senate to reform itself.
The Constitution posits within the Senate the power to confirm. The Founding Fathers carefully and prudentially crafted this provision to ensure that highly qualified persons would occupy high offices. They did not devolve this power over nominations by the president to an individual senator. Presidents under the Constitution are provided veto authority over legislation; individual senators were never provided such authority over nominations.
Indeed, the American Revolution was premised on the notion that democratic decision-making involving institutional checks and balances was preferable to kingly dictates and capricious decisions of a landed nobility.
Governor Weld deserves a hearing; Senate procedures demand reform; the Constitution requires respect.
-- James A. Leach,
House of Representatives,
JAMES LEACH is a Republican congressman from Iowa's 1st District. He made this statement prior to William Weld's withdrawal as the nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Mexico.
Friday, September 19, 1997, Page 14A
The Des Moines Register
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Des Moines, Iowa 50304