For Immediate Release
March 5, 2003
"before I Take Questions, I Want to Make a Statement. as Another Week
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"Before I Take Questions, I Want to Make a Statement. as Another Week comes to a close and we draw closer to the end of the year, I'd like to
remind the Senate once again the important work that remains to be done
when it comes to confirming presidential appointments.
The Senate has failed to act upon 157 nominees that President Bush
has made. These include Eugene Scalia, the President's nominee to be
solicitor at the Department of Labor. Mr. Scalia is an eminently
qualified labor attorney who has demonstrated in his committee hearing
that he would be a dedicated advocate of the policies of the Department
And while a majority of the Senate has announced that they would
support his vote, he has waited over 200 days to be confirmed, and
that's not right.
In addition, the President has nominated individuals to serve as
federal judges at a record pace this year. And yet, there are more
vacancies in the Federal Judiciary now than when President Bush came
into office. The reason is because the Senate has failed to act. And
the Senate has failed to act on 37 of the President's nominees to the
The failure to confirm qualified individuals in the Judiciary hurts
the American people. It's time for the Senate to act on the President's
nominees and assure that the important work of America's government can
be done, and that justice can be carried out.
Finally, in terms of confirmations, on March 22nd, 2001, the
President announced his intention to nominate Otto Reich as Assistant
Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere. March, 22nd, 2001; and
the Senate has failed to even have a hearing on Mr. Reich. The Senate
Foreign Relations Committee refuses even a simple request to give the
man his day in court or a fair hearing.
It's not right for the President to be denied his entire -- his
right to have an entire foreign policy team in place. And Otto Reich
needs to be put in place. His position is critical to our relationships
with our partners in the Western Hemisphere, at a time when nations in
Central and Latin America are looking for leadership from the United
States to help them with difficult internal issues. This is especially
true as we assemble a world-wide coalition to fight the war against
Also, Mr. Reich has a bipartisan majority of the votes in his
committee, and the votes to confirm by the full Senate as well. And
that is why one committee is blocking him from having a fair hearing.
The President has asked for a hearing, Secretary Powell has repeatedly
asked for a hearing, three former Secretaries of State have asked for a
hearing for Mr. Reich, and yet they will not proceed. He has been
confirmed by the Senate twice before. He is qualified, he has dedicated
his career to public service. And particularly when you consider some
of the previous promises made by Democratic members of the Senate, it's
hard to understand why they won't give him a hearing.
"We will confirm the President's nominations to enable him to run
the government he is elected to administer." That was Senate Majority
Leader Tom Daschle on June 6th. "Everyone will get a fair hearing."
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle on June 17th. "We're going to move
as quickly as we can. I think that every administration deserves to
have its people in place." Senate Foreign Relations Chairman
Christopher Dodd, back in June, and he still has not moved.
So I think it's very important for the Senate to take action on the
judicial nominations, as well as the other nominations that are pending
in the Senate. I'm pleased to take your questions."
Q Ari, has the hold-up on Scalia, is there any concern in the White
House that might be some sort of a payback for the Bush vs. Gore
Supreme Court decision?
MR. FLEISCHER: It doesn't matter what the motive is; it's wrong to
do. People deserve a vote. People deserve their fair day at a
hearing. Particularly when they have been promised hearings. If they
never intended to give the President's nominees hearings, they should
have said so. They should have said, we will not allow fair hearings,
we will not proceed quickly, we will not let you get your team in
place. But they have committed to doing that, and it's important if
they gave their word to keep it.
Q So there's no concern that the son may be being punished for the
perceived sins of the father?
MR. FLEISCHER: Again, it's not the White House's position to guess
what the motives are of the Democrats. What the President is interested
is results and action. He understands there may be people who oppose
these people for a variety of reasons. Bring it to a vote. Let every
senator have their say for whatever their motives. But it's wrong not
to act and wrong not to vote. It's especially wrong to never have a