Making the rounds today was Norm Ornstein's updated essay on the horrors of our slow-moving Congress, which still — still! — cannot strike a deal on the impending fiscal cliff. Eighteen months ago, in July 2011, Ornstein called Congress the "Worst. Congress. Ever.," condemning its members' striking partisanship and unwillingness to move, or compromise, on anything. In today's essay (entitled "Worst. Congress. Ever. Still."), Ornstein once again marshals piles of evidence against one of the most disliked arms of American government, citing the reactions to Susan Rice and Chuck Hagel as unprecedented in their ability to stop Congress from executing its most basic functions, like passing laws and (to venture optimism) solve various problems. One statistic he cites caught our eye in particular. According to Ornstein, who's been keeping track since he wrote about Congress in 2011, the Senate has held up a troublingly high number of nominations, even for important posts:
As of a week ago, there were at least 135 presidential nominations to executive posts and 35 nominations to judgeships that were languishing in the Senate, unconfirmed, for more than six months. They included nominations to such key posts as head of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), administrator of the Federal Aviation Authority, and associate attorney general.
President Obama, Ornstein notes, has managed to fill just 64.4 percent of such posts. (Reagan, he notes, filled 86.4 percent of them.)