Hayden Confirmation And Why It Almost Wasn’t

Andrew AlbaneseIn a highly-charged political year like 2016, every issue is viewed through glasses with one red lens and one blue. About the only thing non-partisan on Capitol Hill is the menu in the cafeteria (at least, now that Freedom Fries are history).

This week, politics surprisingly even found their way into the Library of Congress, as the Senate prepared to vote on the historic confirmation of the 14th Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, the first woman and the first African-American to hold the role.

“On July 12, I learned that a group of Senate Republicans had placed an anonymous hold on Hayden’s nomination, threatening to deny her a final up-or-down confirmation vote, and to possibly derail her nomination altogether,” reports Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer. “The story quickly caught fire. Calls, emails, and petitions came pouring into legislators’ offices. The Librarian of Congress was even trending nationally on Twitter. And, Democratic Senators were preparing to speak from the floor on behalf of Hayden. As a political story, the librarian of Congress vote was about to go big.”

Then, just as suddenly, the next day, the Senate confirmed Hayden by a decisive 74-18 vote. According to Albanese, the hero of the drama is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.

“McConnell has been very supportive of Hayden—as have many other Republicans, as you can see from the final vote tally. At same time, McConnell saw this opposition to Hayden as political lunacy,” Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally.

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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