Tensions are understandably high in the Senate right now, with Democrats just about on their last nerve with, well, everything.
So when Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) came to the floor Wednesday afternoon to ask for unanimous consent to approve Dr. Shereef Elnahal to serve as the Veterans Affairs deputy secretary for health and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) objected, Tester blew, telling Scott: “You want to talk about why the American people think the United States Senate is dysfunctional? The senator from Florida could look in the mirror."
Tester pointed out in his speech that Elnahal had impeccable credentials, currently serving as chief executive officer of University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey. That Elnahal had had his hearing in Tester’s Committee on Veterans' Affairs and been approved unanimously. What’s more, Tester said, the need to have the position filled is urgent. “It is no secret that Veterans Heath Administration and health care providers at the VA are going through a challenging time. The VA is continuing to battle the impact of COVID-19 pandemic with veterans cases, hospitalizations, and death on the rise again, and VA staff are dealing with burnout and increasing turnover in our VA system.” The job hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed person in it since January 2017.
So up pops the asshole from Florida to object to the nomination. Not for any real reason—he’s not even on the relevant committee. Just to object. Tester pressed him for a reason, which Scott would not provide, other than mumbling something about not expediting the process and President Joe Biden’s lack of ability to “appoint qualified individuals to serve in important roles.”
Then Scott turned to leave. That’s what really set Tester off.
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