President Bush vented frustration anew Saturday over the Senate's failure to vote on more than 180 of his nominations, including more than two dozen to the federal bench.
"Some have been waiting for more than a year," said Bush, who invited many of the nominees to the White House for an event on Thursday. "As a result, careers have been put on hold, families have been placed in limbo and our government has been deprived of the service of these fine nominees."
Democrats counter that Bush is equally responsible for the stalemate between the White House and Capitol Hill over presidential nominees to lead government agencies, preside over U.S. courts and serve on commissions. They say that in some cases, Bush has nominated people who have no chance of being approved by a Democratic-led Congress.
Bush cited Senate delays in voting on 28 of his federal judicial nominees.
"Three of my nominees for the Court of Appeals have waited nearly 600 days," he said. "These delays are irresponsible, they undermine the cause of justice, and I call on the United States Senate to give these nominees the up-or-down vote they deserve."
The president also mentioned other nominees to the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Justice Department but didn't mention his nomination of Steven Bradbury for assistant attorney general _ a choice that is especially controversial.
In January, Bush renominated Bradbury, refusing to yield to Democrats who oppose a permanent job for the official who signed legal memos authorizing harsh interrogations for suspected terrorists. Bradbury has been serving as acting chief of the Justice Department's Office of Legislative Counsel. Bush wants the Senate to confirm Bradbury as permanent head of the office.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that while Senate Democrats have major policy differences with several of Bush's nominees, they have confirmed many of them. Reid said that on one day in December, the Senate confirmed 84 presidential nominees.
"President Bush has instead pursued his my-way-or-the-highway, all-or-nothing approach," Reid, D-Nev., said on Thursday. "As a result, many of these nominations _ Democrat and Republican _ have stalled, putting a number of agencies in jeopardy and slowing down our government."