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Will Bureaucrats Rebel Against the U.S. Senate?

Kit Bond

Kit Bond

This is not the worst example of the U.S. Senate v. good government during the Obama administration, but it typifies the situation: The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe blogs that Danielle German, the chief of staff at the General Services Administration — a/k/a the “government’s landlord” for its property management — has quit in frustration. Why? Because the U.S. Senate has still not confirmed Martha Johnson, Barack Obama’s nomination way back in May to head GSA. Johnson is still not confirmed, because — you know it -Missouri Sen. Kit Bond has a hold on Johnson. Johnson’s hold is on behalf of the noble national interest of getting more information about new a federal building in Kansas City.

Joseph Lieberman famously made the health care reform bill worse in an attention-seeking fit. But the whimsy of Lieberman’s health care demands was not the actions of one egomaniac. It’s standard-issue behavior in the upper chamber. Kit Bond can hold up a multi-billion dollar agency with thousands of employees, because he wants assurances about, essentially, an earmark to Missouri. South Carolina’s Jim DeMint can stifle airport security, a kind of big deal these days, because he wants to needle unions. Wyoming’s Mike Enzi can prevent the Labor Dept. from enforcing its most basic minimum wage and overtime laws, because…well, it’s not clear why Enzi is doing this.

What’s frustrating is how little Senators called on the carpet for this, either by their colleagues or Obama administration officials. In the case of these holds, comity seems to take precedence over governance. Perhaps, though, we’ve found a way to dramatize the problem — other top-level bureaucrats who will join German and quit in protest.

2 Responses to “Will Bureaucrats Rebel Against the U.S. Senate?”

  1. UG Reader:

    Lack of even mediocre leadership at GSA has existed since the start of the Bush administration — key senior executives including critically important technical experts, acquisition experts and real leaders, have been driven out of the agency. Without an appointed Administator, the executive ranks have been decimated and the best of the next level management have left and continue to leave. The agency cannot retain its intellectual capital in an environment of deteriorating quality among the leaders that remain. The agency could provide many governmentwide products and services that would reduce costs and help the government deal with the shrinking acquisition workforce. But the delay in getting a seated Administrator in place is just accelerating the agency’s decline.
    Doesn’t it seem like Kit Bond must be looking to achieve some monetary benefit through the federal building issue — he must be looking to line the pockets of someone… maybe private sector companies who have been big contributors to his campaign or who plan to pay him well after he leaves the Senate (apparently he’s done after this session). There is so little substance associated with his hold on Ms. Johnson that there must be some hidden agenda. When is the media going to peel the onion and bring that into the light?

    comment at 09. January 2010
  2. Clifford Bryan:

    Of course they will rebel, its part of Washington D.C. culture

    comment at 14. January 2010

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