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 WarnerClinton urged to go liberal with vice presidential pick Lawmaker bemoans tax 'buzzsaw' for on-demand economy workers Reid throws wrench into Clinton vice presidential picks MORE (Va.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate amendments could sink email privacy compromise Honor Frank Lautenberg by protecting our kids Senators take aim at 'armies of zombie computers' MORE (R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenDems discuss dropping Wasserman Schultz Senate panel approves funding boost for TSA Dems: Warren ready to get off sidelines MORE (N.H.) and Roland Burris (Ill.), focused on Republican blockage of President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaNorth Korea calls Obama’s Hiroshima trip ‘childish’ Sanders takes different position on superdelegates than he did in 2008 Ryan seeks to put stamp on GOP in Trump era MORE’s nominees.

The Democratic classes of 2006 and 2008 met with Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidSanders fundraises for Feingold in Wis. Senate race Clinton urged to go liberal with vice presidential pick Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns 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 UdallHonor Frank Lautenberg by protecting our kids House, Senate roll out chemical safety compromise Overnight Energy: Lawmakers closing in on chemical safety deal 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 BennetLawmakers push to elevate Cyber Command in Senate defense bill GOP ad calls Clinton 'a living history of scandal' Trump, GOP agree: ObamaCare helps us 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.