Hawley says he'll block Biden nominees until Cabinet secretaries resign

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Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) called President Joe Biden 'a disgrace' and called for his resignation as well.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) announced Tuesday that he plans to obstruct every single one of President Joe Biden's nominations for positions in the State and Defense departments.

Speaking on the floor of the Senate, Hawley called Biden "a disgrace" in remarks on the departure of U.S. troops and civilians from Afghanistan in August and demanded that the president resign: "Joe Biden is responsible for today's failure and not there must be accountability. Instead, the president's team is even now coming to Capitol Hill blaming others, shirking responsibility. That's cowardly. And I, for one, am not willing to look the other way.

"So let me be clear: I will not consent to the nomination of any nominee for the Department of Defense or for the Department of State until Secretary [of Defense Lloyd] Austin and Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken and [national security adviser] Jake Sullivan resign," Hawley continued. "Leaders take responsibility for their failures."

Hawley has been a sharp critic of the withdrawal from Afghanistan — despite having previously pushed for exactly that. Hawley's official Senate website noted on Nov. 17, 2020, "Today U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO.) sent a letter to Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller expressing his support for President Trump's plan to promptly withdraw American troops from Afghanistan." The letter itself closed with the words, "Acting Secretary Miller, the time has come to end the war in Afghanistan. I urge you to stand with President Trump and bring our troops home as expeditiously as possible."

As a member of the minority party, Hawley does not have the power to unilaterally block Biden's nominees. Under Senate rules, all nominees can be confirmed by a simple majority of senators. But a single senator can slow down the process, forcing colleagues to waste up to two hours each of floor time debating appointments.

This comes at a time when many key positions in the administration remain unfilled, including some that oversee global diplomacy and national security.

Max Stier, the president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, told the New York Times in August that the State Department's lack of confirmed officials was especially worrying.

"Of the positions we track, the State Department has the most gaps of any agency," he observed. "But the truth is, you only have 127 confirmed positions, so there are problems pretty much everywhere. The most noticeable ones are the places where there are current, obvious needs. So, there's the international issues, whether it's Afghanistan or China."

Republicans have stalled dozens of Biden's State Department nominations — while complaining about the administration's handling of foreign policy.

And while he is now demanding that top Biden officials resign over their "failures," Hawley refused to heed demands that he step down from his own office over his actions earlier this year: spreading false claims about the November 2020 election results and trying to block Biden's Electoral College victory.

In January, the editorial boards of two major Missouri newspapers called for his resignation or removal over his role in stoking the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

"Sen. Josh Hawley had the gall to stand before the Senate Wednesday night and feign shock, shock at what happened — hours after he had fist-pumped and cheered the rioters as they arrived on Capitol Hill," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote. "Hawley's tardy, cover-his-ass condemnation of the violence ranks at the top of his substantial list of phony, smarmy and politically expedient declarations."

"If Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley had shown any evidence that there's a conscience in there somewhere, underneath the ambition and the artifice and the uncommon combo of striving and laziness that he's somehow made work for him, then we wouldn't be where we are right now," the Kansas City Star said. "We wouldn't, that is, be wondering what to say to a man who, having so disgraced his office, and our state, must either resign or be removed from the U.S. Senate."

Last November, Hawley said that he and other Republicans would try to block Biden's nominees as retaliation against Democratic lawmakers.

"Democrats deprived President Trump of a working government for four years," he told reporters. "I can't imagine that a Republican Senate would immediately turn around and say that I'm just gonna roll over and give a President Biden — if that's who should become president — give him whatever he wants. So I'd say if I'm them, I suit up, because I think it's going to be a tough fight."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.