Talking Points Memo: Sen Republicans’ Special Interest-Fueled Obstruction Delayed The Inevitable
By Kyle Herrig
We’ve known for some time that Senate Republicans were laying the groundwork to obstruct the new administration, particularly when it came to opposing President Biden’s Cabinet nominees. And today, even though almost all of Biden’s crisis-tested and historically diverse Cabinet has been confirmed, we cannot forget that Republicans tried — and ultimately failed — to derail the incoming Biden administration. And we cannot forget that this opposition was driven not simply by Senate Republicans’ partisanship and a desire to score political points, but also in a deliberate effort to protect their special interest allies and corporate donors.
Despite their best efforts, Senate Republicans’ attempts to sink or damage Biden’s nominees ultimately failed because the American people saw through them. In addition to the rank hypocrisy Biden’s nominees experienced compared to the treatment of President Trump’s nominees, many Republican senators made it clear that they were acting on behalf of special interests — most notably the pharmaceutical and oil and gas industries.
In many cases, they didn’t even try to hide their motivations: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said the quiet part out loud when he voiced opposition to now-Secretary Becerra because he wasn’t a pharmaceutical executive like President Trump’s HHS secretary, Alex Azar. Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT) and John Barrasso (R-WY) were vocal about their concerns for the extraction industries in their states, while ignoring the tribal voices and environmentalists back home that supported Haaland’s nomination. Ultimately, these attacks all fell flat and each of these nominees was confirmed with bipartisan support.
President Biden promised to appoint qualified nominees from diverse backgrounds in order to build a Cabinet that looked more like America, and that’s exactly what he did. Instead of celebrating the administration’s many historic confirmations, Senate Republicans spent months delaying, obstructing, and attacking these nominees to protect the needs of their special interest donors. As President Biden’s administration gets to work to upend the status quo and build an economy that prioritizes working families over corporations, the senators who tried to block progress should be remembered for their actions.
Kyle Herrig is the president of the anti-corruption group Accountable.US, a nonpartisan watchdog group.