Senate Playing Game of Chicken Over FEC Nominations
By Paul Kiel – October 5, 2007, 5:06PM
For Democrats, the stakes are high for Hans von Spakovsky’s nomination to the Federal Election Commission. They say that a man who politicized the Justice Department and worked to disenfranchise voters has no place on the body regulating election issues. But the stakes for the fallout from his confirmation battle may be even higher.
Right now, the fight over von Spakovsky’s nomination is at a stalemate. Senate Republicans insist that if von Spakovsky isn’t confirmed, then none of the other three nominees to the Federal Elections Commission will get a vote. But a select group of Senate Democrats, led by Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Russ Feingold (D-WI), say that they’ll prevent any vote on von Spakovsky if his nomination is tied to the other nominees. For now, neither side is budging.
In holding the other three nominees hostage, the Republicans have a clear strategy. The commission typically has six members, three of them Republicans and three Democrats. If the Senate did not vote on any of the four nominees up for confirmation, then the commission would be down to only two members by the end of the year, which would effectively incapacitate it. The commission requires four members to operate. To prevent that from happening, President Bush could stock the commission with recess appointees while Congress was out of session.