WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid laid into Republicans on Tuesday, saying the Senate is unable to fill key military and intelligence posts because GOP senators continue to delay votes.
“Senate Republicans are simply so opposed to everything — absolutely everything — that they even oppose putting people in some of the most important positions in our government,” Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate floor. “This irresponsible partisanship does not merely poison our political system, it endangers our national security.”
A Republican leadership aide shrugged off the speech. The aide said Republicans want time to debate nominees but Democrats want to push them through, which leads to impasse.
“Reid schedules the floor,” the GOP aide said. “We don’t schedule the floor.”
Reid said the Senate has been unable to act on four nominees to fill posts in the Department of Defense, State Department, Department of Homeland Security and the International Conference on Disarmament. Included on a list are the intelligence chiefs for the State and Homeland Security departments, and the No. 3 leader at the Pentagon.
Newsweek reported last week on Democratic complaints that Caryn Wagner, in line to become intelligence head at the Department of Homeland Security, and Philip Goldberg, nominated to fill a corresponding post at the State Department, were being secretly blocked by Republicans.
“Unfortunately, these are not isolated cases,” Reid said. “They are part of an endless and reckless pattern.”
The speech was part of a broader message that Senate Democrats sought to deliver. They distributed a sheet calling attention to what they said were GOP efforts to delay defense and war spending bills last year, and delays to the confirmations of Army Secretary John McHugh and Gen. Stanley McChrystal to head U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Reid’s speech comes almost a week after President Barack Obama in his State of the Union speech warned that the partisan atmosphere on Capitol Hill was “sowing further division among our citizens and further distrust in our government.”
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760.Defense official fired
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert Gates is removing at least one senior manager and withholding money from a defense contractor because of troubles in the Pentagon’s marquee fighter jet program.
Gates said the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program has missed performance markers and suffered other problems.
Gates used a discussion of the Pentagon’s proposed budget to announce he is holding back $614 million in performance bonuses from lead contractor Lockheed Martin Corp.
He ordered a change in leadership in the Pentagon office that runs the program but did not announce a replacement for the current program manager or say whether there will be other firings.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS