Friday, April 29, 2005

61-37

The cloture vote on the nomination of Stephen Johnson as EPA Administrator just carried by 61 to 37. Why does this matter and how does this illustrate the importance of checks and balances in government?
Mr. Johnson's nomination was held up for a time by Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), a centrist by inclination. Tom Carper didn't question Stephen Johnson's qualifications to run the EPA. Carper put a roadblock in the nomination out of frustration over the EPA's lack of response to his requests for analysis of his alternative proposal to President Bush's "Clear Skies" initiative, which has been stuck in committee since its introduction, even though the Senate is controlled by the GOP.
This is a clear example of why checks and balances are built into the system. For the Bushies, it hasn't been enough to control the executive and legislative branches of government; they have chosen to prevent a reasoned consideration of a proposal from a centrist Democrat.
I call this a case of Republicans acting like sore winners -- a theme that is repeated in the Republicans' threat of the "nuclear option" to sweep away the fillibuster for judicial nominations and proposals to reduce the independence of the federal courts.
There's a reason why these checks and balances have been in place for more than 200 years, and that reason has to do with the durability of our constitutional form of government. History has provided ample evidence that "winner takes all" forms of government simply don't last.
P.S. Sorry to have been absent from these pages recently. I'm recovering from bronchitis and am just getting back to speed -- hopefully in time to catch up with the swift current of events.

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