In the party’s first organized attempt to embarrass President Obama, Senate Republicans voted in unexpectedly heavy numbers against Timothy Geithner for Treasury secretary on Monday night, even though he was easily confirmed.
The vote was 60-34, with 30 Republicans opposed.
Conservative talk radio hosts had railed against Geithner, prompting a flood of calls of opposition to Capitol Hill.
Rush Limbaugh said earlier this month: “Timothy Geithner. I can't let this go. He's the Treasury secretary nominee, and he didn't pay taxes. … This is the drive-by [mainstream media] sentiment: … Geithner is a genius — he's going to save the economy of the entire world. So what if he doesn't pay his taxes? These are serious times. We need the man! “
Senate offices from both parties said they had received a swarm of calls opposing Geithner.
One heartland Republican senator who voted against Geithner got several hundred calls of opposition to the nomination, and not a single one in favor.
Republicans voting “nay” included four of the party’s Senate leaders — Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Conference Chair Lamar Alexander (Tenn.). and Conference Vice Chair John Thune (S.D.).
McConnell said in a statement: “I have heard from Kentuckians over the last several days on the nomination of Timothy Geithner, and, I want to reassure them that I heard their concerns. While it is the prerogative of the President to choose his cabinet, I can’t, in good conscience, vote to confirm Mr. Geithner given the questions that still remain following his committee hearing.”
Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). also voted against Geithner.
Two GOP leaders — Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Ensign of Nevada — voted “yea.”
The non-Republicans who were opposed were Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Democrats Tom Harkin of Iowa, Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.
Not voting were Republican Kit Bond of Missouri and Democrats Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Ron Wyden of Oregon.