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 Robert WarnerTop Senate Dems demand report from Trump on UK nerve agent attack The Hill's 12:30 Report Overnight Tech: What we learned from Zuckerberg's media blitz | Opening arguments in AT&T-Time Warner trial | Trump plans new tariffs on China MORE (Va.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps Overnight Energy: EPA plans to restrict use of science data for regs | Pruitt's Italy trip cost more than K | Perry insists he's staying at Energy Senate sides with Trump on providing Saudi military support MORE (R.I.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenate sides with Trump on providing Saudi military support Companies fretting over ‘foreign agents’ label Senators demand cyber deterrence strategy from Trump MORE (N.H.) and Roland Burris (Ill.), focused on Republican blockage of President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaYou just can't keep good health policy down Obama Foundation announces new job training program for Chicago students Biden praises Parkland students fighting for gun reform: ‘They’re going to win’ MORE’s nominees.

The Democratic classes of 2006 and 2008 met with Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidHarry Reid tears into Trump, Senate GOP: They’re ‘acolytes for Trump’ GOP pushes to change Senate rules for Trump Trump presses GOP to change Senate rules 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.

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 UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Regulation: Omnibus includes deal on tip-pooling rule | Groups sue over rules for organic livestock | AT&T, DOJ make opening arguments in merger trial Overnight Energy: Winners, losers in omnibus bill | EPA funding stands at .1b | Lawmakers get wildfire funding fix Spending bill rejects Trump’s proposed EPA cut 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 Farrand Bennet2020 Dems unify around assault weapons ban, putting pressure on colleagues McConnell, Schumer tap colleagues to explore budget reform Democrats march toward single-payer health care 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.