Senate Dems launch protest of GOP filibusters of Obama nominees

The protest is part of a broader effort to curb the GOP’s use of the filibuster, which has frustrated Democrats throughout this Congress.

The newly elected Democrats, including Sens. Mark WarnerMark WarnerOvernight Cybersecurity: Last-ditch effort to stop expanded hacking powers fails Intel Dems push for info on Russia and election be declassified Senate Dems push Obama for info on Russian election interference MORE (Va.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseGOP wants to move fast on Sessions Dem senator backing Sessions for attorney general Dems pledge to fight Sessions nomination MORE (R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Tech: Venture capitalists' message to Trump | Bitcoin site ordered to give IRS data | Broadband gets faster Dem senator: Hold hearing on Russian interference in election Scott Brown suggests voter fraud in NH without evidence MORE (N.H.) and Roland Burris (Ill.), focused on Republican blockage of President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaFor Trump, foreign policy should begin and end with China Harvard spat between Clinton, Trump camps proves Dems can't accept Trump's improving Wrestling mogul McMahon could slam her way into Trump administration MORE’s nominees.

The Democratic classes of 2006 and 2008 met with Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDemocrats local party problem Trump flirts with Dems for Cabinet Lawmakers eye early exit from Washington MORE (D-Nev.) last week to discuss the possibility of filibuster reform. Reid has pledged to consider it as part of a new rules package for next year.

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Warner led off the round of floor speeches. As many as 10 senators are expected to participate.

“One thing has become clear to me since becoming sworn in a little over a year ago,” Warner said. “Some of the very safeguards that were created to make this a serious and responsible deliberative body have been abused in a way that damages this institution.”

Warner and his classmates argue that Republicans have abused the power to hold nominees and wage filibusters to block legislation.

The lawmakers related the stories of several nominees who have stalled in the Senate because of GOP objections. They highlighted nominees who are not themselves controversial but have been used as bargaining chips in other negotiations with the administration.

The Obama administration has 64 nominees pending in the Senate.

“These are nominees where, despite overwhelming committee votes, they languish on the calendar for months, often because one senator has a completely different gripe about a completely unrelated issue,” Warner said.

Some freshman Democrats, such as Sen. Tom UdallTom UdallTom Udall eyes NM governor bid Court ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Tensions rise over judicial nominees MORE (N.M.), support using the so-called constitutional option to adopt new rules for the chamber at the start of the 112th Congress.

The tactic would allow the chamber to adopt new rules through a simple majority vote. Other lawmakers, such as freshman Sen. Michael BennetMichael BennetSenate passes college anti-Semitism bill Speculation and starting points: accreditation, a new administration and a new Congress The untold stories of the 2016 battle for the Senate MORE (D-Colo.), are pushing for filibuster reform to be included in the new rules package.

Whitehouse said “obstructionist tactics” are “preventing the government of the United States from doing its business.”

“It is wrong for all Americans who depend on an effective United States government,” Whitehouse said.