Carney: GOP opposition against Obama nominees has become 'ridiculous'

Republican opposition to the president's nominees has “become ridiculous,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday.

Carney spoke ahead of a Senate meeting where members will discuss changes to the Senate’s filibuster rules being pushed by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who wants to stop Republicans from blocking a host of President Obama’s nominees.

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“We take the fact that the Senate has been ... overwhelmed by gridlock to be obvious. And it has manifested itself in this nomination process,” Carney said. “That's why it's so important to work it out.”

“This has become ridiculous,” he added separately.

Carney said President Obama believes the Senate “should not work the way it has been working, because it hasn't been working very well.”

The Senate will begin voting Tuesday night on seven pending nominees, with Reid threatening to use the “nuclear option” and change Senate rules if Republicans filibuster.

The nuclear option would prevent Republicans from using the filibuster and would allow nominees to be approved with a majority vote.

Republicans could back down and allow an up-or-down vote on the nominees, as demanded by Reid. That would likely get Reid to back off on his threats.

But Republicans seem unlikely to allow up-or-down votes on nominees to the National Labor Relations Board or Richard Cordray, Obama’s nominee to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Republicans have said they’ll allow up-or-down votes on three other nominees.

Reid continued to make his threats on Monday.

“Let them stop the filibuster on the seven I filed cloture on and we would have up-or-down votes on those people and we go on,” he said in remarks delivered at the Center For American Progress Action Fund. “That seems pretty simple to me.”

Carney said Monday that Obama “hopes the Senate will figure out a way” to fix the gridlock, but that the White House would leave what shape that would take to Reid.

“We do defer on Senate rules and processes to the Senate leader,” he said.

The White House also refused to comment on whether Vice President Biden would cast a decisive vote in favor or against changing the rules, were there to be a 50-50 split among lawmakers.

“That's a speculation I'm not going to engage in,” Carney said.

He also brushed aside Republican threats that they would grind the machinations of the Senate to a halt if Democrats change the rules.

“It boggles the mind, how they would achieve that,” Carney said, noting that Congress already struggled to pass other big pieces of legislation.