Republican Senators went through with their plan on Wednesday and held up business in the Senate by debating to delay the vote on one of President Obama’s judicial nominees. In this instance, the nominee was Nina Pillard, whom President Obama nominated to be on the D.C. federal appeals court. Eventually, after 1 AM ET on Thursday, Pillard was confirmed by a 51-44 vote.
The GOP has indicated that they plan to continue this for the other ten nominees, thus bringing the Senate to a virtual standstill for the rest of the session before the Christmas break. By Senate rules, judicial and lesser cabinet appointees allow up to eight hours of debate. Other cabinet positions, like Secretary of Homeland Security, can allow up to 30 hours. This is known as post-cloture debate time, where the vote is imminent but Senators are still allowed to discuss it. Normally, Senate leaders would agree to allow the debate to occur during recess. However, things haven’t been normal for a while on Capitol Hill.
This is all around Senate Republicans throwing a temper tantrum due to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) finally exercising the ‘nuclear option’ and eliminating the 60-vote filibuster rule. They had spent years obstructing the President’s nominees, for no real reason than to just do it, and now are upset that the option was taken away from them. It wasn’t like Reid had done it on a whim, either. He kept giving Minority Leader Mitch McConnell the benefit of the doubt that things would change, and that they would eventually allow nominees to go through. When McConnell kept the obstruction going, Reid had no choice to go through with the move, otherwise the President would have nobody filling vital roles in his cabinet or on judicial benches.
When asked about the Republicans’ antics on Wednesday and their continuing to use debate to slow down each nominee, Reid had this to say:
“It is hard to imagine a more pointless exercise than spending an entire day waiting for a vote whose outcome we already know. But Republicans insist on wasting time simply for the sake of wasting time. It’s no wonder Americans overwhelmingly support the changes Democrats made to the rules last month in order to make the Senate work again.”
Reid is going to stand firm on this. The GOP has faint hopes that Democrats will grow weary and that Reid will decide not to have a few nominees voted on. But that will not be the case. Reid is going to keep the Senate in session around the clock until each of the next ten nominees gets confirmed. It is in fact more likely that Republicans will tire of their useless exercise and finally relent when it is obvious they will have to stick around and do this all day and night for the next few days. Eventually, they will feel that they’ve proven their point to their donors and hard-core constituents and move on.
But, for now, Republican Senators are using this time to repeat some of the same old mantras they’ve been bleating for the past couple of years. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) did the obvious and pointed to Obamacare:
“What we’re seeing I believe is an effort to divert attention away from the ObamaCare nightmare.”
It seems to me that Barrasso turned the wheel in his office before facing reporters and it landed on Obamacare instead of Benghazi or the IRS. Another Senator, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, whined that this was all an effort by the Democrats to be in’control of this body’, referring to the federal government. Apparently somebody forgot to tell Johanns that Democrats already control the White House and Senate, so yes, they should be in ‘control of this body.’
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).