Senate Dems plan challenge to GOP filibusters


blocked i can haz unblock

Senate Democrats are bringing the "F" word back... not that many of us don't regularly use the "F word" in response to Congress in general, but that's a different F word. This time it's "filibuster," a term that offers us yet another opportunity to repeat the other F word over and over and over again.

Republicans have blocked, obstructed, whined, tantrumed, threatened, and pretty much put democracy on hold for years, and Senate Democrats are sick of it. Well, they've been sick of it for some time, but now they say they're really and truly and honest-to-goodness ready to force confirmation votes on several of President Obama’s appointments as early as this week. We'll see.

it's about time

And now that Senate Dems passed an immigration bill, the leadership sees no reason to put this off any more... again. However, chances are they'll only focus on agency appointees, not judicial nominees.

Via the New York Times:

If Republicans object, Democrats plan to threaten to use the impasse to change the Senate rules that allow the minority party wide latitude to stymie action.

Through the filibuster and other delaying tactics, Republicans have slowed the confirmation process as the president tries to install the team that will carry him through his second term. But Democrats and their majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, now say they have reached the point where they believe that the only way to break the logjam is to escalate the fight.

Well that only took four-plus years. Talk about hurry up and wait...

The rule change ... would allow senators to continue to filibuster legislation and judges, but not appointments to federal agencies or cabinet posts.

Democrats believe that their argument — that a president has the right to assemble his own team of like-minded cabinet officials and other high-level policy makers — is more persuasive in the court of public opinion. They also believe that this fight could have fewer consequences for them should their political fortunes reverse and they find themselves in the minority trying to block judicial nominees from a Republican White House.  [...]

For Democrats, filling those positions will allow the Obama administration greater certainty in enforcing labor law. And it will satisfy their supporters in organized labor who are concerned about the legal limbo clouding the labor board’s decisions.

Republicans don't really have an axe to grind when it comes to President Obama's nominees. Only when it comes to the president himself, and of course the agencies that would serve us well if they were given a chance to, you know, actually function.