By Ramsey Cox
Senate Republicans used their arguments against ObamaCare to continue debate against President Obama’s executive and judicial nominees Thursday morning.
“By breaking the rules to change the rules of the Senate ... what we basically saw was them ramming through — just like the ObamaCare vote — the president’s nominees,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said. “This whole effort here to start this debate on judges is an effort to distract from ObamaCare.”
Republicans are dragging out debate on the nominations of Nina Pillard to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court and Chai Feldblum to serve on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission because the GOP is still frustrated that Democrats unilaterally changed the Senate filibuster rules last month, allowing several of Obama’s nominees that were previously blocked to get up-or-down votes this week.
The rule change means only 51 votes are needed to end a filibuster on nominations below the level of the Supreme Court. Previously, 60 votes were needed.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) triggered the “nuclear option” to make the change. It allows the Senate’s rules to be changed by a majority vote.
The Senate is expected to spend the rest of the week on executive and judicial nominees. Reid has filed cloture on several nominees, and if Republicans continue to use all the debate time, votes could bleed into the weekend.
Republicans have accused the administration and Senate Democrats of trying to “pack the court,” saying the recent rule change will change the U.S. judiciary system forever by turning into a partisan fight.
“This isn’t about Republican obstructionism,” Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said. “This is about our Democratic friends wanting to pursue a very liberal agenda and they can’t do it through legislation so they’ll do it through federal regulation. ... Their intent is to pack the court.”