11/19/2013

The "Nuclear Option" push really begins now

The Huffington Post as this ominous quote from Senator Patrick Leahy:
"I fear that after tonight, the talk about changing the cloture rules for judicial nominations will no longer be just talk. There will be action," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "We cannot allow this unprecedented, wholesale obstruction to continue without undermining the Senate’s role provided in the Constitution and without harming our independent federal judiciary." . . .
Some quotes from angry Democratic Senators in Roll Call:
Democratic leaders are again taking the temperature of their caucus on whether to finally go “nuclear” and change the Senate rules after Republicans blocked another judge Monday night, aides said. 
Conversation about the “nuclear option” between leaders and the rank and file began as members trickled back into town before a failed 53-38 cloture vote on the nomination of Robert L. Wilkins to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. . . .
“When will we say enough is enough? Repeatedly over the past month, a minority of Senators has blocked qualified nominees by abusing the Senate rules. The rules on nominees are not working, and we need to change them,” [Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.] said in the statement. “This court will rule on the critical protections that we put in place to protect hard working families from the predatory practices of Wall Street. We cannot let a minority of Senators block qualified nominees and endanger the important reforms that have been put in place to protect Oregon families.” . . . 
“When it comes to judicial nominations, I am fulfilling my constitutional responsibility, but Congress is not. Instead, Senate Republicans are standing in the way of a fully-functioning judiciary that serves the American people,” Obama said. “The American people and our judicial system deserve better. A majority of the United States Senate supports these three extraordinary nominees, and it is time for simple yes-or-no votes without further obstruction or delay.” . . . 
“I am very hopeful that Sen. Reid will be able to get … these votes on the floor so that they can be voted up-or-down, but I think we have a constitutional responsibility, particularly with judges, to vote on the nominations of the president,” Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin said at the CBC news conference. . . .
Politico:
It may take weeks to get there, but the latest GOP tactic essentially guarantees the Senate will soon endure another draining fight over changing the chamber’s rules by a simple majority by invoking what is called the “nuclear option.” . . . .
CNN notes:
the idea [“nuclear option”] has gained steam in recent weeks even among some veteran Democratic senators who have been reluctant to change the rules. . . . 
Another article in Roll Call mentions that Democrats are pushing the claim that the filibuster was due to racism.
Minutes after Senate Republicans blocked confirmation of an African-American judge to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, suggested that one of the motivators for the filibuster was his race. 
“I certainly think it had some impact,” said Fudge at a press conference flanked by fellow CBC members and Democratic Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island after Republicans blocked Judge Robert L. Wilkins. “It is clear who they are keeping out of judicial nominations and other positions that we know have to be filled for the government to run effectively. 
“You have to ask them what their motives are,” Fudge continued. “All I know is what I see.” . . . 

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