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 WarnerFBI director casts doubt on concerns over mail-in voting fraud Democrats call for declassifying election threats after briefing by Trump officials It's time to upgrade benefits MORE (Va.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSupreme Court fight pushes Senate toward brink The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' Feinstein 'surprised and taken aback' by suggestion she's not up for Supreme Court fight MORE (R.I.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenate Democrats introduce bill to sanction Russians over Taliban bounties Trump-backed candidate wins NH GOP Senate primary to take on Shaheen Democratic senator urges Trump to respond to Russian aggression MORE (N.H.) and Roland Burris (Ill.), focused on Republican blockage of President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Senate GOP set to vote on Trump's Supreme Court pick before election In a season of bad ideas, one stands out MORE’s nominees.

The Democratic classes of 2006 and 2008 met with Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSupreme Court fight pushes Senate toward brink The Supreme Court vacancy — yet another congressional food fight Trump seeks to turn around campaign with Supreme Court fight 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 UdallLWCF modernization: Restoring the promise OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats tee up vote on climate-focused energy bill next week | EPA reappoints controversial leader to air quality advisory committee | Coronavirus creates delay in Pentagon research for alternative to 'forever chemicals' Senate Democrats demand White House fire controversial head of public lands agency 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 BennetOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats tee up vote on climate-focused energy bill next week | EPA reappoints controversial leader to air quality advisory committee | Coronavirus creates delay in Pentagon research for alternative to 'forever chemicals' Senate Democrats demand White House fire controversial head of public lands agency Next crisis, keep people working and give them raises 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.