The Wall Street Journal
By KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL
When Chuck Schumer feels compelled to dial up a grouchy conference call with the press, it usually means Republicans are doing something right.
In this case what’s right is a strategy by the Republican Senate, which is refusing to confirm a slew of President Obama’s nominees to key posts. GOP senators are issuing “holds” on appointees and explaining that they will continue until the administration accedes to specific demands. Judging by the number, volume and bitterness of Democrats’ howls, this is getting the White House’s attention.
“We should be fighting ISIS with all hands on deck, not with one hand tied behind our back,” complained Mr. Schumer on his recent call, suggesting that the fight against terrorism might improve if the State and Defense departments simply had more people to not implement Mr. Obama’s non-policy in Syria and Iraq.
“Why are nonpartisan public-service positions being used as political pawns?” grumpedHarry Reid, from his usual grumping ground on the Senate floor.
The answer, as Mr. Reid well knows, is that the holds are proving to be one of the Republican Senate majority’s best means of negotiating with this intransigent White House. Barack Obama isn’t willing to sign bills to improve ObamaCare or rein in spending or even tighten vetting for refugees. The administration continues to block basic congressional oversight. And the president still shows withering contempt for Congress and the law, threatening to go around both whenever he doesn’t get his way. The holds are a small, sometimes effective way to extract concessions.
The best holds are those that come with specific demands—and most of these do. Iowa’sChuck Grassley placed a hold on three senior State Department officials, which he says will continue until the department delivers documents related to Hillary Clinton’s email and staff—requests it has stonewalled since 2013.
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