Senator Charles Grassley recently spoke on the Senate floor on the nomination of Samantha Power to be the Director for USAID.
As I’ve said many times in the past, presidents should be given a good deal of discretion when choosing their political appointees.
And so long as their nominees are qualified and do not obstruct the advice and consent process, the Senate should not stand in the way of their confirmation.
After all, Presidents are ultimately responsible for the actions of their Administration.
And if the buck truly stops at the Resolute Desk, they need to be able to trust their subordinates to get the job done.
That being said, I must vote no on the nomination of Samantha Power to be the Director for USAID.
On February 18th, I sent a letter to Ms. Power asking questions regarding emails that came out of her office during her time serving as the UN Ambassador.
Heavily redacted versions of those emails obtained by my office appear to suggest that Ms. Power’s staff may have been working behind the scenes to remove the Islamic Relief Agency from the Treasury’s Sanctions list.
That organization was placed on the sanctions list for funneling money to terrorist groups, and removing it would have allowed it to receive private donations as well as taxpayer funds.
In her letter responding to my questions, Ms. Power claimed that she was not working to take ISRA off the sanctions list.
She further claimed that the emails in question were part of an effort to challenge false claims made by ISRA at the UN denying their involvement in terrorist financing.
In order to verify her claims, I have requested on multiple occasions that she provide un-redacted copies of the emails and complete answers to the questions that I posed in my original letter.
But after three months, all I’ve received is a collection of public press releases.
I haven’t received the emails I requested, and I haven’t received answers to my questions.
Normally, political nominees wait until after they’re confirmed to start ignoring congressional inquiries
But in this case, it seems the Executive Branch has decided advice and consent is going to be a mere formality, and there’s no need to wait.
This seems to be a pattern.
For instance, I asked Secretary Becerra a number of specific questions for the Record as part of the Finance Committee vetting process.
I received responses that didn’t even try to address the substance of my questions.
I also asked Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to reconcile some conflicting information on her House financial disclosures and responses to questions for the record for the Energy Committee about her taxes.
These weren’t gotcha questions. In fact, it was probably an innocent mistake, if anything.
But, she declined to respond at all.
Maybe the White House figures they don’t need Republican votes so they don’t need to answer even routine vetting questions from Republicans.
But, then they cannot blame Republicans whom they ignore for voting No.