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 WarnerSenators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency at hearing Lawmakers introduce bill to block U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (Va.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: Scientists flee USDA as research agencies move to Kansas City area | Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules to put industry reps on boards | New rule to limit ability to appeal pollution permits Dem senators demand GOP judicial group discloses donors Senate Democrats skipping Pence's border trip MORE (R.I.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenEpstein charges show Congress must act to protect children from abuse House Dems, Senate GOP build money edge to protect majorities Crucial for Congress to fund life-saving diabetes research MORE (N.H.) and Roland Burris (Ill.), focused on Republican blockage of President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaImmigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids More adult Twitter users follow Obama than Trump: survey Trump's no racist; he's an equal opportunity offender MORE’s nominees.

The Democratic classes of 2006 and 2008 met with Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWebb: Questions for Robert Mueller Steyer's impeachment solution is dead wrong The Hill's Morning Report - House Democrats clash over next steps at border 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 UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallHouse passes bill to crack down on toxic 'forever chemicals' Overnight Energy: Trump threatens veto on defense bill that targets 'forever chemicals' | Republicans form conservation caucus | Pressure mounts against EPA's new FOIA rule Trump threatens veto on defense bill that targets 'forever chemicals' 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 BennetThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Fundraising numbers highlight growing divide in 2020 race 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.