Slideshow: The Senate’s Broken Confirmation Process

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John Sullivan, nominated to the Federal Election Commission, is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 10, 2009, prior to the start of his confirmation hearing before a Senate Rules Committee. When he was never confirmed and left in limbo, Sullivan asked the White House to withdraw his nomination. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

Federal Election Commission

Five of the six commissioners of the Federal Election Commission, the agency tasked with enforcing laws on the financing of political campaigns, are working on expired terms. The sixth’s term will end in April 2013 and there are no replacements pending confirmation. All of the commissioners predate the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which dramatically changed the way elections are funded, and for ideological reasons, the three Republican commissioners refuse to enforce campaign finance regulations.

At the beginning of his presidency, Obama made one nomination to the commission, John J. Sullivan, a lawyer for SEIU, the Service Employees International Union. In 2009, Sullivan testified at his confirmation hearing and was unanimously endorsed by the Senate Rules Committee. But Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and John McCain (R-AZ) put a hold on Sullivan in an attempt to pressure Obama to nominate FEC commissioners to fill the seats of two other commissioners whose terms had expired. Their plan backfired: Obama did not nominate new commissioners and Sullivan was never confirmed. After 15 months of waiting, Sullivan asked the White House to withdraw his nomination.

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