This vote was on whether to call a vote on confirming Cass Sunstein to head the regulatory division of the Office of Management and Budget, the White House’s powerful arm that oversees the budget and management of every federal agency.
This vote was on bringing debate to a close on the nomination. If the Senate votes to “invoke cloture” then lawmakers must either hold a vote on the legislation, amendment or motion in question, or move on to other business. This type of motion is most often called on contentious legislation where the leadership is concerned that consideration could be held up indefinitely by a handful of politicians.
Sunstein, a Harvard law professor, was nominated to the office that reviews and approves all regulates issued by executive branch agencies. His nomination drew arrows from both sides of the partisan divide: from Republicans, who were concerned about his positions on animal rights, and from Democrats, who were concerned about his past support for some of President Bush’s regulatory initiatives.
Jim Bunning, R-Ky., called Sunstein’s views “far outside of the mainstream.”
“For example, Mr. Sunstein believes that animals should be given the same rights as humans. Furthermore, Mr. Sunstein is against hunting and compares it to the `` mass extermination of human beings.'' Whether it is for population control or for food consumption, hunting plays a vital role in the lives of many Americans, especially in Kentucky,” Bunning said. “He has also been very hostile to second amendment rights and has publically stated his resistance to an individual's right to keep and bear arms.
Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., said because Sunstein is a prolific writer, he has taken positions that are “unconventional and, for some, controversial.” However, Lieberman said Sunstein had answered every question fully.
“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,” Lieberman said. “So this is a bright, thoughtful, creative man who, as a professor, has written some provocative, unconventional ideas.”
By a vote of 63-35, the Senate voted to bring debate to a close on the nomination of Cass Sunstein. All but three Democrats present voted for his nomination. Of Republicans present, seven voted for his nomination and 32 voted against it. The end result is that the Senate brought debate to a close on the nomination of Cass Sunstein to head the regulatory arm of the Office of Management and Budget, and proceeded to a final confirmation vote (see vote 274).