|Sauerbrey wins support, loses job|
Sauerbrey wins support, loses jThe Baltimore Sun, December 31, 2007
But as her temporary appointment draws to a close, their support has not been enough to save her job.
In recent weeks, representatives of Refugees International, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and other groups that initially objected to Sauerbrey's nomination have met with Senate staff members to push for a vote that would enable her to stay on through the end of President Bush's term.
The refugee advocates say the knowledge and experience that Sauerbrey, a 70-year-old former Maryland lawmaker and two-time Republican nominee for governor, has acquired as assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration is now essential to an administration dealing with displacement crises in Iraq, Darfur and beyond.
Refugee advocates who have been critical of the U.S. response see Sauerbrey as an ally within the Bush administration.
"Within a very difficult environment, she has tried to be responsive," said Richard Parkins, chairman of Refugee Council USA. "We've not managed to achieve everything that we would like to have achieved, but within the total scheme of things, we feel that the program is better off by having her continue."
'Stalled in Senate'
"We think it's unfortunate that the Senate hasn't been able to complete its important work on confirming people to serve in critical positions throughout the federal government," said White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore. "We think she's obviously very qualified, and she's done a good job in this position, and it's unfortunate that the Senate hasn't provided leadership on some of these nominations."
The groups cited Sauerbrey's appearance in May at the World Congress of Families, a conference held in Warsaw, Poland, for opponents of abortion and same-sex marriage. Nineteen members of the European Parliament asked Sauerbrey to reconsider her plans to speak there; one told The Sun that the conference agenda ran against the values of tolerance, diversity and inclusion that the European Union has tried to promote.
The State Department did not make Sauerbrey available for an interview then or now. She is one of 19 Bush administration officials scheduled to leave office today, the last official day of the 2007 Senate session. All are recess appointees, installed by Bush in 2006 while lawmakers were away from Washington, as allowed by the Constitution.
Conceived more than two centuries ago as a way to allow the White House to temporarily fill important federal positions during the long stretches when the early Senate was unavailable to provide advice and consent, the recess appointment has been used in modern times by presidents of both parties to bypass the confirmation process for controversial nominees. Recess appointees may serve through the end of the next Senate session.
Lawmakers have left Washington for the holidays, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, is blocking Bush from employing the tactic by scheduling pro forma meetings to keep the Senate from going into recess. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, a Maryland Democrat who supports Sauerbrey's nomination, is one of the senators who has been tapped by Reid to preside over a pro forma meeting.
As Sauerbrey returns to private life, the Senate in 2008 still could act on her nomination, which remains pending through the end of the 110th Congress. No hearings are scheduled.
But with the continuing opposition of the abortion-rights groups, a new confirmation process could be as contentious as the first. Ellen Marshall, a spokeswoman for the International Women's Health Coalition, said the groups want Bush to name a new nominee.
"It's time to move on," she said.