The silly confirmation process, part CXXVIII

THE SILLY CONFIRMATION PROCESS, PART CXXVIII…. President Obama nominated Rep. John McHugh (R-NY) to serve as his Secretary of the Army a couple of months ago, and his confirmation seemed like a foregone conclusion. Even Republicans who reflexively oppose everything the White House wants would have no reason to block a Republican lawmaker’s nomination.

Or so we thought.

Concerned that their state could become the home for some Guantanamo Bay detainees, Kansas’ two Republican senators have placed a hold on the nomination of Rep. John M. McHugh as Army secretary. […]

Sens. Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback are seeking answers from the Obama administration about the possible moves of some detainees to the prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

The senators have asked the White House for a briefing by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates , Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. or other senior officials.

Roberts and Brownback have also blocked Senate consideration of the Deputy Secretary of the Army, for the same reason. In both cases, the senators concede the nominees deserve consideration, but will have to wait until they’re satisfied with an unrelated question. (Reminder: there are already terrorists being detained in Kansas, whether Roberts and Brownback realize it or not.)

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is reportedly “furious” with the far-right Republican senators who’ve blocked progress on the nomination. He’s apparently under the impression that the Army needs leaders in their offices in the midst of two wars. Imagine that.

Also note how annoying this pattern is. Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) put a hold on an EPA nominee, not because he was unqualified, but because Voinovich wanted a new report from the agency on the costs associated with cap and trade. Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) put a hold on an Interior Department nominee because Bennett had questions about oil and gas leases in Utah.

It’s routine, in other words, for qualified nominees who enjoy more than enough support to be confirmed to wait for floor votes, indefinitely.

The Senate confirmation process is exceedingly annoying.