Dems have returned Bradbury's nomination four times, and over and over again, the White House has renominated him, most recently last month. And today Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Durbin, the Senate whip, revealed that, in negotiations with the White House late last year before the Christmas holiday, the President refused to strike a deal on nominees unless Reid allowed him to recess appoint Bradbury. Reid said he'd offered to confirm 84 of the pending nominees, but the White House said no dice. From Reid's remarks on the floor earlier today:
He said that unless I would agree to allow him to recess appoint Steven Bradbury, he wouldnât make a deal â he didnât care if that meant no one got confirmed. He was willing to forgo the 84-plus nominees and the offers of recess appointments if he couldnât install Mr. Bradbury.
On a conference call with journalists earlier this afternoon, Durbin said that White House chief of staff Josh Bolten has made it clear that until Bradbury is approved, no deal will be cut on nominees.
The White House apparently plans a kind of public relations push on the set of unconfirmed nominees, with the president himself expected to speak tomorrow. Today in the White House press briefing, spokesman Tony Fratto claimed that it was Senate Dems who were causing the problem: "It seems to me that the Senate only cares about one nominee, because they are willing to not fill over 200 positions in the federal government over the one position that they claim to have a problem with." (In the call, Durbin said he had no idea where Fratto got the 200 number from.)
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called the administration's all-or-nothing stance on Bradbury "the most bogus issue they've found yet."