Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) on Wednesday promised to block the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s nominees in the Senate until the administration complies with congressional demands to disclose information regarding Biden’s classified documents scandal.
The National Archives on Tuesday skipped the House Oversight Committee’s deadline to comply with requested documents, a decision consistent with the administration’s tactic of stonewalling on the issue during White House press conferences.
“I’d refer you to the White House Counsel’s office,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre routinely responds when asked about the classified documents.
Cotton told reporters that some Republican senators will “impose pain on the administration until they provide these documents. And that is coming from both parties.”
“I’m prepared to refuse to consent or to fast-track any nominee for any department or agency. And take every step I can on every committee on which I serve to impose consequences on the administration until they provide these documents for the Congress to make our own informed judgment about the risk to national security,” Cotton said.
Senate Republicans “impos[ing] pain” on the administration until they comply will slow down the Democrat-controlled Senate. If the blockade of nominees goes forward, it will mean Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will have reduced time for business on the Senate floor. The Senate has only taken one action since the new year, as it mostly has been sorting our committee assignments. On Monday, it confirmed an assistant defense secretary.
Though a nominee can be confirmed swiftly if all 100 senators agree, the route to confirmation is often longer and more complicated. A simple majority vote can confirm a nominee, but a filibuster from any senator can delay confirmation.
“Congress has an absolute right to every single document or item or photo or box or picture or map that was at President Trump’s residence, President Biden’s residence and office, and for that matter, [Vice] President Pence’s residence as well,” Cotton said. “I still have no clue what was in these documents. I’m not aware of any member of Congress that has any clue.”
Cotton’s comments came after a classified briefing on Wednesday with Biden officials. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines reportedly attended the meeting.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told reporters the briefing was “very unsatisfying… to say that they’re not going to share anything with us as long as the special counsel doesn’t allow them to share it with us? That’s an untenable position.”
Cotton and Rubio were not the only senators unhappy with the briefing. Senate Intelligence Chair Mark Warner (D-VA) told reporters the administration’s “answers we received on that issue didn’t meet the mark, and I’ll have more to say later.”
“I’m very disappointed with the lack of detail and a timeline on when we’re going to get a briefing,” Warner continued. “We’re left in limbo until, somehow, a special counsel designates it’s OK for us to be briefed. And that’s not going to stand, and all things will be on the table to try to make sure that doesn’t.”
It is unclear if Democrats will join Republicans in blocking Biden’s nominees.
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.
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