Editorial: Don't be fooled, legislative move to confirm Cooper's cabinet is all about power politics
Posted February 3
A CBC Editorial: Friday, Feb. 3, 2017; Editorial# 8120
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
Let’s just drop the phony pretenses here, OK?
The leadership of the Republican-controlled General Assembly didn’t recently rush through a law seizing confirmation power over gubernatorial cabinet appointments because of a sudden attack of good-government conscience.
This “extra session” bill was passed and signed into law in mere hours because Senate boss Phil Berger, R-Rockingham and House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, wanted to make sure Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper knew just who’d be calling the shots in North Carolina government the next four years.
Berger and Moore are doing all they can to diminish Cooper’s clout.
It may be foolish, wasteful and wrong, but that’s politics.
But, at the very least, they should be up-front about their true motive -- with other legislators, with Cooper and the North Carolinians they serve.
Rather than raising the curtain on an unnecessary act of political theater, just drop these needless confirmation hearings. It’s in the courts and the lawyers are battling it out. Regardless of the outcome, they remain unnecessary. The hearings and confirmation ordeal should just be eliminated.
The reality is that the GOP leadership is demanding something that no governor, at least in recent times, has had to endure.
The Democrats who ran the General Assembly in 1973 didn’t demand it of Republican Gov. James Holshouser. The Democrats who ran the General Assembly in 1985 and 1989 didn’t demand it of Republican Gov. Jim Martin. And, the Republicans who ran the General Assembly in 2013 – most of whom are running the show now – certainly didn’t demand it of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.
In rolling out a nearly two-month schedule of confirmation meetings, Senate Nominations Committee co-chair Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, said the goal was to be sure that Cooper’s cabinet nominees were qualified, had no conflicts of interest and would obey the law.
And why in the world are these meetings dragging out until mid-March? The U.S. Senate is nearly done with President Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees. Surely, they aren’t getting any less scrutiny than any member of Cooper’s cabinet might need.
Perhaps the model the state Senate’s using is the U.S. Senate’s handling of Merritt Garland’s nomination for Supreme Court justice?
Look, there are more than enough opportunities for the Republicans in the General Assembly to harangue and harass the Democrats in Cooper’s administration. There will be budget requests, program needs and plenty of other opportunities to call them before legislative committees and assert dominance and power.
Meanwhile, North Carolina’s public schools still need adequate funding and teachers need reasonable pay. The state’s crumbling infrastructure needs to be addressed. The coal ash mess along with other environmental issues need attention. Our public universities are suffering neglect and other states are beating North Carolina to the punch in economic development. And, don’t forget, House Bill 2 still needs to be repealed, no strings attached.
That’s certainly enough to keep legislators busy without the needless wheel-spinning of confirming Cooper’s cabinet.