The Senate Must Swiftly Confirm Russ Vought
The Conservative Action Project, including ACRU chairman Susan Carleson, released a memo urging the senate to take swift action confirming Russ Vought.
October 25, 2017
Conservatives have expressed concern over the Senate’s slow pace in confirming President
Trump’s nominees. At first, it seemed that this was a tactic of Senator Schumer and his loyal
Democrats. Then, it seemed that Republican Leader McConnell was responsible by reducing
Senate work schedules to 2.5 days a week.
Now, even the mainstream media reports that some of these nominees are being blocked from
consideration by members of the President’s own party. Specifically, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
is refusing to allow consideration of the nomination of deputy director of the Office of
Management and Budget (OMB), Russ Vought, who is a veteran of Capitol Hill and formerly
staffed Vice President Pence when he was in Congress, in addition to working for former Sen.
Phil Gramm, and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, both Texans. Cornyn’s hold should be concerning to
conservatives for the following reasons.
First, Sen. Cornyn is a member of Republican Senate leadership and it is his job to aid the
President of his own party to confirm qualified nominees. Vought is more than qualified for
the position — indeed, Cornyn has raised no objection to Vought’s ability to perform in the role
to which he is nominated. He is a conservative held in the highest esteem by his peers. He has an
unquestioned record of expertise in budget and policy issues combined with his history of
honorable service in key roles in the House and Senate. Without a substantive objection to the
nominee’s qualifications, President Trump should expect the Senate’s Republican leadership to
quickly confirm this nominee.
Second, Sen. Cornyn has publicly stated he is blocking Vought’s confirmation, not because
of any concerns with his qualifications or policy views, but instead for the unrelated issue
of demanding more federal funding. Texas is already receiving aid in the $36.5 billion
supplemental funding bill that recently passed the House, and is under consideration by the
Senate. Yet, Cornyn wants more. In taking this position, Cornyn appears to be playing politics
and one-upsmanship with his fellow Texans, Governor Abbott and Senator Cruz, both of whom
have helped to bring about appropriate and constructive federal support in response to this
natural disaster. This behavior by Senator Cornyn is unbecoming a Senator who wants to be the
next Republican leader in the Senate and who professes to be a principled conservative.
Third, however, is the fact that Cornyn is blocking the confirmation of a nominee who has
been repeatedly attacked for his religious beliefs. At Vought’s confirmation hearing in June,
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) claimed that Vought was not qualified for a position within the
government because of his Christian faith. With his comments, Sanders overtly violated Article
IV of the Constitution, which prohibits religion as a threshold test for public service. In making
these comments, Sanders crossed into territory that is dismaying in its intolerance and shocking
in its intention. The only answer to such an outright and unconstitutional expression of bigotry is
swift confirmation of Vought’s nomination by the Senate. Yet, by blocking this nomination,
Sen. Cornyn is complicit in support of Sen. Sanders’ position by holding Vought’s nomination
The Constitution gives the Senate the responsibility to advise and consent on presidential
nominees. This is a critical role that conservatives have continually used to stop unqualified
nominees, or those nominees which senators believe will advance bad policy or fail to uphold the
Constitution. But, Sen. Cornyn’s actions are not based on this.
What Sen. Cornyn is engaged in is not principled leadership. It is not majority party leadership.
We call on Sen. Cornyn to lift his hold on the nomination of Russ Vought, once again stand for
principle, provide the kind of leadership expected from the #2 Republican in the Senate and
prevail on Majority Leader McConnell to schedule a vote on this nominee without delay.