November 7, 2013

In theGrio: The GOP’s unprecedented blocking of Mel Watt

Senate Republicans are looking for a fight with the president.

This much was clear when they used the power of the filibuster to block the nomination of Rep. Melvin Watt (D-North Carolina) to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

The blocking of Rep. Watt is significant because it speaks volumes about Republican opposition to President Obama.  This just does not happen to sitting members of Congress.  Although the FHFA is not a cabinet-level position, no lawmaker has been blocked for nomination to a cabinet post since 1843—that’s 170 years ago.

In 1843, the enslavement of black people was still the law of the land, and Sojourner Truth began her career as an abolitionist.  Roger B. Taney—the jurist who wrote the opinion in the Dred Scott decision—was Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  And 1843 witnessed the introduction of the first blackface minstrel show.

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