Prior to the 63-35 cloture vote on the nomination of Cass Sunstein to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the leaders of the Senate committee who held his confirmation hearing spoke in praise of the nominee. We’ve uploaded the relevant section of The Congressional Record here.
Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, said:
Because Professor Sunstein is brilliant, creative, and prolific, he has written some things that are unconventional and, for some, controversial. I believe when asked about each of those matters he answered sincerely and fully and reassuringly.
For example, hunters were concerned about Professor Sunstein’s views on gun rights. He made very clear he believes the second amendment creates an individual right to possess guns for hunting and self-defense. To farmers and others concerned with his previous writings and comments on cruelty to animals, Professor Sunstein has said he would take no steps to promote litigation on behalf of animals, which some concluded was his position based on a provocative article he wrote, and that he has no plans, certainly, to regulate animal husbandry.
So this is a bright, thoughtful, creative man who, as a professor, has written some provocative, unconventional ideas. I suppose if one wanted to take advantage of them for one’s own purposes, to politicize, in some sense, or ideologize, in some sense, this nomination, one might seize on those. But at bottom, this is a person extraordinarily well qualified for this position.
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the ranking member, also found Sunstein well-qualified, and his former law student, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) spoke strongly in his favor.
Groups cited in his support were the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Farm Bureau and National Association of Manufacturers. Included in the record was the letter from the NAM’s Vice President for Infrastructure, Legal & Regulatory Policy, Rosario Palmieri:
DEAR CHAIRMAN LIEBERMAN AND RANKING MEMBER COLLINS: On behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the millions of Americans our members employ, I am writing to offer our support for the confirmation of Cass Sunstein to be Administrator of the Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management & Budget. Thank you for the swift work of your Committee to report Professor Sunstein favorably to the full Senate.
The NAM has supported nominees to OIRA under both Republican and Democratic presidents. The office plays a crucial role in agency prioritization, paperwork reduction, and regulatory review. President Obama said that the office offers a “dispassionate and analytical `second opinion’ on agency actions.” We believe that function is especially crucial during the economic crisis we face and to preserve high wage jobs from being lost due to unnecessary or thoughtless government action.
Cass Sunstein, in particular, is deserving of confirmation because of his keen intellect, expertise in the fields of administrative and environmental law, and his commitment to fair and reasoned deliberation of issues that will come before him. Under an Administrator Sunstein, all sides will be given a fair hearing and a real opportunity to impact the final analysis of an issue.
We stand ready to assist in ensuring confirmation by the full Senate of Cass Sunstein.