Background information available here: the executive summary is that the Inspector General of Americorps was fired earlier this year, under circumstances that appear at best to be part of a whitewash of an administration crony. Senator Grassley (R) of Iowa has taken an interest in the case, and is making it clear that he's not going away:
Republican Sen. Charles Grassley has blocked the ambassadorial nomination of Alan Solomont, currently chairman of the board of the government agency that oversees AmeriCorps, in retaliation for what Grassley says is the administration's stonewalling of Congress over documents relating to the firing of AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin. Specifically, Grassley has sought, and been denied, information relating to the White House's role in the decision to fire Walpin.
Solomont, a major Democratic donor, is chairman of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which includes AmeriCorps. His term ends in October, and President Obama has nominated him to be U.S. ambassador to Spain. The nomination was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week and now moves to the Senate floor -- except that Grassley has placed a hold on it, meaning it will go nowhere until the senator's objections are resolved.
Two things to note: first, and most obviously, if the White House refuses to take seriously its own stated rules about transparency and openness then there's no reason for anybody else to do so, either. It's long since past time that this administration either changes its behavior to match its rhetoric, or else admit that they never meant the rhetoric in the first place. A sitting Senator should not have to use this kind of weapon in order to get a simple information request honored.
Second, and this is frankly a warning: the Senatorial hold is merely one of the tools developed by the Senate over a centuries-long history to ensure that the majority party may not run roughshod over the minority one. If the Democrats attempt to use reconciliation to push through their unpopular health care rationing bill, well. There are many, many ways to ruin a Senate Majority Leader's day - and SML Reid's only hope is that none of the at least forty men and women (all accustomed to the holding and use of power) who he's just arrogantly dismissed won't be annoyed enough at him to use them.
Yes, put that way it sounds a lot less like a good idea, doesn't it? Sixty-forty Reid tries it anyway.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.