Senate rejects Obama’s nominee to head GPO

Public Printer William Boarman wants answers as to why the Senate has rejected President Obama’s nomination of him to continue on as head of the Government Printing Office.

On Saturday, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) mentioned on the Senate floor that issues had arisen surrounding Boarman’s nomination, but no specifics were given.

On Sunday, Boarman told The Hill that he had garnered support from Reid’s office over the last year since he took the helm of the GPO through a recess appointment. When the news of his nomination rejection came out, Reid’s staff was reportedly just as surprised and saddened as Boarman himself.

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“I just think that at some point someone said, ‘We have an issue with him and we’re not letting him through,’ but they wouldn’t say what the issue was,” Boarman said. “I think [Reid] was just mimicking what he had heard. As far as I know, he has no idea what the issue is because his staff person didn’t know.”

Reid’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Boarman’s nomination had been held up in the Senate for nearly two years. It was disclosed earlier this year that Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) had blocked the nomination from consideration because of disputes stemming from separate issues relating to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

“They disclosed that they were holding me up because of NLRB appointments that they couldn’t get, which had nothing to do with me,” Boarman said.

According to Boarman, Reid’s staff “worked hard to clear the objections of Hatch and Isakson and they thought it was a done deal, and then they just said no, and they wouldn’t give them a reason.

“And then sent my name back to the White House so that I couldn’t stay in consideration in the second session,” he added. “I would have still been on the calendar, they could have taken my name up in January, in February, but they sent my name back, which made no sense at all.”

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Senate Rules Committee responsible for oversight of the GPO and confirmation of the Public Printer, reacted swiftly to the news.

“The fact that we have not cleared this nomination is outrageous,” said Schumer on the Senate floor Saturday.

“The two Republican Senators who had holds on this nomination — holds that had nothing to do with concerns about Mr. Boarman but with other nonrelated nominations — finally released their holds yesterday,” he added. “Now, today, some new obstacle has arisen on the Republican side. We know it is not an objection to Mr. Boarman himself but we have run out of time.”

Schumer went on to praise Boarman for his “outstanding” work over the last year and successful cost-cutting initiatives that have saved the agency many millions of dollars.

“It is extremely unfortunate that this agency, which is so important to Congress, to the private sector printing industry, and to the country, will now be without an effective leader when Mr. Boarman's recess appointment expires,” he added.

Boarman plans to reach out to the White House Monday and speak further with Senate staff for answers. But his future and the leadership of the GPO are now in question.

“There’s just no way of knowing and I’m not going to speculate,” he said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with me. I think I did the job and I was qualified ... I guess it’s just politics.”

“The problem is there’s little chance the President can get someone else nominated, to a committee and confirmed in an election year,” Boarman added. “So the agency will most likely be led by career people who will have to be in an appointed position.”

Boarman’s recess appointment will expire at the end of the first session. After that, he may continue on in a volunteer capacity to get the interim GPO leader up to speed.

Though the news of the Senate’s decision came as quite a blow, Boarman insisted he was grateful for the time he had spent heading up the GPO.

“I am honored to have done it and I have no regrets,” he said. “I would have loved to have done it for a little longer, but I just have to deal with that and move on.”

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