Outreach

Senate Republicans filibustered two nominees today for reasons that aren’t clear, leaving you, the general public, to take a wild guess.

MelWattSenate Republicans filibustered Mel Watt

The Senate on Thursday voted 56-42 to proceed to vote on Rep. Mel Watt’s (D-NC) nomination to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, short of the 60-vote filibuster-proof threshold needed to advance to a final vote.

PatriciaMillet…and Patricia Millett

Immediately after that vote, Patricia Millett’s bid for a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals fell five votes shy of 60, leaving the prominent Supreme Court lawyer caught in a Republican filibuster that has nothing to do with her qualifications for the post.

An African American and a woman.

If the GOP could cite a legitimate reason for blocking them, I wouldn’t read that far into it, but as things stand it looks pretty bad.

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  • feloniousgrammar

    There’s talk of changing the voting rules in the Senate.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/biden-worth-considering-senate-voting-rules-change

    • Tony Lavely

      They’ve talked about that before…

      • feloniousgrammar

        That doesn’t mean it can’t happen or that talking about it isn’t valuable whether it happens or not.

        • JWheels

          I really hope they actually do something about this this time. The only incentive for preserving the status quo is the idea that somehow if we (the Democrats) don’t touch the filibuster that would magically prevent some future Republican majority from pursuing the so-called nuclear option themselves. The fact is if the Republican Party manages to survive enough election cycles to somehow regain a Senate majority there is absolutely nothing stopping them from severely curtailing the filibuster if the Democrats tried the same tactic in the future.

          So rather than allowing a minority party who has stated publicly on numerous occasions they want to cripple the government to achieve that end, why not change the rules now and get all these vacancies filled. That way the Republicans have a far lower likelihood of being able to use the “government is incompetent” meme in any substantial way. That might even prevent them from ever getting that future majority. Have I ever mentioned I can’t stand Harry Reid on this issue?

          • muselet

            I’m not sure Harry Reid is to blame. Remember, the last time filibuster reform was suggested, about half the D caucus balked. Simply 86ing the filibuster is out of the question.

            A clever parliamentarian—which I am emphatically not—could almost certainly craft a reasonable compromise that would allow the minority to have its say but would prevent the minority from blocking all action. The Rs (and some Ds) wouldn’t like it and would screech loud and long about tyranny and the suchlike—and, as you note, the Rs would get rid of all debate opposed to their agenda if they regained power—but it would be a show for the cameras and not a substantive complaint.

            Besides, Harry Reid has to be seen as gracious and accommodating to the minority. It’s kind of in the job description (and the traditions of the Senate, which yes, have been terribly abused by the Rs).

            –alopecia

  • RamOrgan

    Time for the nukular option

  • trgahan

    My guess is that the GOP is blocking because most appointments are how political parties (through their President) enforce policy without congress and affect change beyond a few election cycles.

    For example, Bush packed all regulatory agencies with former industry heads (some openly hostile the agency they were appointed to head). These particular appointees had two primary directives: 1) neuter the agency and 2) create the “evidence” Republicans want to “prove” the agency’s ineffectiveness and therefore its needed destruction and/or privatization (Heck of a job, Brownie!).

    In this case, aside from their obvious conservative short comings (not white male millionaires), most of these appointees probably want to actually make the specific agency/cabinet/posting do what it was designed to do…and THAT definitely cannot be allowed to stand!

  • Victor_the_Crab

    If the GOP could cite a legitimate reason for blocking them…

    Their legitimate reason is, SHUT UP!!! Which seems good enough only to them.

    • JWheels

      You forgot their other reason, “YOU LIE!!!” Or that old time classic of “SHOW US YOUR BIRTH CERTIFICATE!!!”

    • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

      About two weeks ago, my illustrious Senator, McCain said that he didn’t see any “extraordinary circumstances” to block these two nominees (this was the standard that a bipartisan Senate committee agreed to several years ago). This week, he says he now sees extraordinary circumstances to block them. I think what he really sees is the Tea Party threatening him. Maverick my ass.

  • drspittle

    According to “The Takeaway” on NPR, Lindsey Graham is mad because the administration has not allowed certain people to testify about (wait for it) BENGHAZI!!!! (really) iand Graham “wants to get the administration’s attention”. Graham has “no problem with eiither candidate”. He is mad that the administration has not honored the Senate committee’s request. The Obama Administration contends that since there is a criminal investigation the testimony requested could compromise national security. Graham’s fee fees haz a sad.

  • SEPA_Q

    Blocking nominees is just what they do. The party of “no” refuses to do anything at all except stop anything from getting done. Then they can, of course, bitch and moan that government doesn’t work — most especially federal government when there is a Democratic president!