Senate Republicans might leave Democrats with rare Friday session

Senate Republicans might be leaving Democrats with an often threatened but rarely experienced Friday session.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tried Thursday to require all senators to come to the floor to expedite votes on Obama administration nominees, but Republicans refused to yield back any debate time, which could force Friday evening votes.

Because only a simple majority is required to advance most nominees, after Reid invoked the “nuclear option” last year, Republicans will likely still leave town Thursday evening while Democrats will have to stay to finish the work.

The Senate is considering the nominations of Michelle Friedland to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and David Weil to be administrator of the Department of Labor’s wage and hour division.

{mosads}Earlier Thursday, the Senate voted 56-41 to end debate on Friedland’s nomination, setting in motion up to 30 hours of debate before final confirmation, which is considered all but inevitable.

“What do we gain by holding this up?” Reid asked. “The country gains nothing.”

Reid tried to get consent to finish votes Thursday, but because Republicans objected, the next vote might wait until 5 p.m. Friday if Democrats yield back their half of the time, as expected.

“I’m sure it’s a little difficult for people watching this to understand why Republicans are demanding that we waste time, because that’s all it is,” Reid said. “Why would we want to waste 30 hours doing nothing?”

The Senate will soon move to end debate on Weil’s nomination, setting up another eight hours of debate before final confirmation, but again Democrats can yield back their half of the time. If that’s the case, the Senate would complete votes around 9 p.m. Friday before recessing for the two-week spring break.

Last year, Democrats unilaterally changed Senate rules to bypass filibusters on most nominations, lowering the threshold to proceed from 60 votes. Republicans have complained this rule change greatly undermined minority party rights in the Senate.

“We’re working under the rules that the majority changed by ignoring the rules of the Senate back in November,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said before objecting to Reid’s request.

Tags Chuck Grassley Harry Reid Nuclear option United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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