“If the president truly wants to usher in an era of bipartisanship in this period of divided government, he could start by rethinking some of the highly partisan renominations he’s made in this Congress, and consider nominating individuals who are able to gain at least some bipartisan support.”
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) spoke on the Senate floor on Wednesday about President Biden’s highly partisan nominees. Thune stated that the president has renominated at least 15 individuals who were unable to get any bipartisan support in the last Congress. Thune noted that if the president truly wants to usher in an era of bipartisanship in this period of divided government, he should consider nominating individuals who are able to gain at least some bipartisan support.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, in his State of the Union address last month, the president expressed an encouraging desire for bipartisanship.
“But I said at the time that I hoped his words would be matched by his actions.
“After all, the president spoke about being a president for all Americans in his inaugural address, but his first two years in office were not exactly distinguished by bipartisanship.
“So while I was encouraged by the president’s words in the State of the Union, as I said, I’m looking for them to be matched by his actions.
“And renominating a slew of extreme nominees, as the president has done so far this year, is no way to start.
“So far this year, the president has renominated at least 16 individuals who were unable to get any bipartisan support in the last Congress.
“They include an individual with serious unanswered questions about his possible role in a movement to push out senior career officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in favor of Biden loyalists.
“Multiple individuals aligned with Democrats’ radical Green New Deal agenda.
“A nominee who has repeatedly embraced anti-police rhetoric.
“Multiple abortion extremists.
“A leftist litigator who has called the U.S. Senate and the Electoral College anti-democratic institutions and who has admitted that he is motivated by his hatred of conservatives.
“And the list goes on.
“And then of course there’s the nominee who recently appeared in front of the Senate Commerce Committee for the third time – Gigi Sohn.
“This is Ms. Sohn’s third nomination to the Federal Communications Commission during the Biden administration.
“Her previous two nominations stalled thanks to her inability to garner any bipartisan support.
“And with good reason.
“Because Gigi Sohn has to be the poster child for terrible presidential nominees (although I suppose the Biden judicial nominee who couldn’t explain article II of the Constitution should also be in the running).
“I have serious policy disagreements with Ms. Sohn on multiple issues.
“She not only wants to bring back the heavy-handed internet regulation of the Obama administration, she wants to go further and have the FCC regulate broadband rates and set data caps.
“This would discourage broadband investment and threaten U.S. leadership in 5G, as well as diminish internet access opportunities for Americans outside of major urban and suburban areas.
“As a resident of a rural state, I also have serious concerns about Ms. Sohn’s position on rural broadband.
“She’s been publicly hostile to the efforts of rural broadband companies to expand reliable internet access to rural areas, while at the same time she’s supported the use of scarce government dollars to overbuild networks in already well-served areas.
“Her hostility to rural broadband led one former Democrat senator to ask how Democrats can ‘support rural broadband expansion and also support Gigi Sohn.’
“But, Mr. President, my concerns with Ms. Sohn don’t end here.
“I not only have serious policy disagreements with Ms. Sohn, I have serious questions about her character and fitness for the office for which she is nominated.
“The Federal Communications Commission has jurisdiction over radio, TV, and the internet, which means that it deals with a number of sensitive issues, notably free speech issues.
“And for that reason it calls for commissioners who are thoughtful, fair, and impartial.
“Ms. Sohn is none of these.
“She is a virulent and unapologetic partisan, known for speaking disparagingly of conservative media outlets – the same outlets she would be regulating – and politicians who disagree with her.
“Her nomination is opposed by a wide range of organizations, including the left-of-center Progressive Policy Institute, which opposes her due to, quote, her ‘pattern of illiberal intolerance for voices on the left who dissent from her hard left orthodoxies.’
“Ms. Sohn is the very opposite of fair and impartial.
“And I can think of few candidates who would be more detrimental to the fair and impartial adjudication of media issues and to the protection of free speech on public airwaves.
“But the problems with her nomination don’t even end there.
“Ms. Sohn has raised serious ethics questions recently with her political donations to several Democrat senators at the same time that her nomination was before the Senate.
“One of those donations was actually given to a member of the Commerce Committee, which, of course, is the committee considering her nomination.
“Mr. President, Ms. Sohn may not have intended to influence senators considering her nomination.
“But at the very least her decision to donate to these senators while her nomination is before Congress gives the appearance of impropriety and raises serious questions about her judgment.
“But her ethical issues don’t end there.
“She was less than forthcoming with the Commerce Committee about her time on the board of a company that was found to be operating in violation of copyright laws.
“And questions remain about how she got the substantial settlement against her company drastically reduced.
“Ms. Sohn has volunteered to recuse herself, if she’s confirmed, on a variety of issues related to broadcasting and copyright violations because of her involvement with this company and the settlement.
“But I am hard-pressed to understand why we would choose a commissioner who would have to recuse herself from participating in substantial parts of the FCC’s work.
“Mr. President, unfortunately there’s a lot more I could say about the problems with Ms. Sohn’s nomination.
“But I’ll stop here.
“Suffice it to say that I cannot think of a less appropriate candidate for this position.
“Instead of continuing to attempt to place a virulent partisan like Ms. Sohn at the FCC, the president should nominate a qualified candidate who will do his or her job in a fair and impartial manner.
“And as I said at the beginning, if the president truly wants to usher in an era of bipartisanship in this period of divided government, he could start by rethinking some of the highly partisan renominations he’s made in this Congress, and consider nominating individuals who are able to gain at least some bipartisan support.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”