Senate Democrats Move Toward ‘Nuclear Option’
The latest obstruction of an Obama nominee to a federal court occurred Monday afternoon:
Judge Robert Wilkins has been filibustered by Senate Republicans. In a 53-38 (one voting “present”) vote Monday afternoon, the Republicans made good on their threat to refuse to allow any of President Obama’s three nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court, the nation’s second highest court, to be seated. … Following on the heels of their filibuster of Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) to head up the federal housing agency, Republicans clearly aren’t taking that whole “reaching out to the African-American community” thing too seriously.
Tuesday, two high-profile hold-outs Democrats came out in favor of the “nuclear option” — filibuster reform that would end most procedural obstructions short of a “Mr. Snith Goes to Washington” talkathon. Don’t be surprised if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calls for a rules change before Thanksgiving:
“I am very open to changing the rules for nominees,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told The Huffington Post. “I was not before, because I felt we could work with them. But it’s gotten to an extreme situation where really qualified people can’t get an up-or-down vote.”
“I do now,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters when asked if she supports filibuster reform. She said she changed her mind on the issue after watching as a bipartisan deal to let President Barack Obama’s nominees get votes, struck over the summer, went nowhere.
“We had a meeting in the Old Senate Chamber and everybody had an opportunity … to really express themselves,” Feinstein said of the summer meeting. “I thought it was going to bring about a new day. The new day lasted one week, and then we’re back to the usual politics.”
She called it “unconscionable” for a president not to be able to have his cabinet team and judicial appointees get votes. She specifically singled out Republicans’ treatment of Obama’s three nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. All three have been filibustered in the past few weeks. In total, there are now 21 nominees either currently being filibustered or who were filibustered and ultimately withdrew.