Reid To McConnell: Yes, You Are Abusing The Filibuster

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Wednesday rebuffed Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) warning not to follow through with his threats to weaken the filibuster for nominations via the nuclear option.

“Today, Senator McConnell defended the status quo of gridlock and obstruction in Washington, saying ‘there is no real problem here.’ I could not disagree more. Senator McConnell may choose to ignore it, but the problem of gridlock in Washington is real and it needs to be fixed,” Reid said. “Despite the agreement we reached in January, Republican obstruction on nominees continues unabated. I want to make the Senate work again.”

To rebut McConnell’s point that Republicans are behaving responsible, Reid’s spokesman Adam Jentleson pointed to a nonpartisan Congressional Research Service report this month which found that President Obama has faced more obstruction and delays on nominations than any of the previous five presidents.

The rest of Reid’s statement, which followed a floor exchange Wednesday morning:

“Presidents – be they Republican or Democratic – deserve to have the people working for them that they choose. The Senate’s role is to advise and consent. But Republicans have corrupted the Founders’ intent, creating an unreasonable and unworkable standard whereby the weakest of rationales is often cited as sufficient basis for blocking major nominees. Due to Republican obstruction, the de facto threshold for too many nominees to be confirmed has risen from a simple majority to a supermajority of 60 votes. On judicial nominees, Republicans’ obstruction is equally unprecedented. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service confirms that President Obama is the only president in the last three decades whose highly qualified nominees have been forced to wait more than half a year from nomination to confirmation. There is no reason to delay qualified nominees for so long except delay itself, and it is little wonder we have a judicial vacancy crisis in this country.

“Despite the agreement we reached in January, Republican obstruction on nominees continues unabated. I want to make the Senate work again – that is my commitment. Republicans and Democrats will have our differences over policy, but the American people expect better from their elected leaders than constant gridlock and obstruction.”

UPDATE: McConnell’s spokesman Don Stewart emailed TPM the following response to Reid’s remarks that “Republican obstruction on nominees continues unabated.”

Really, which ones? Every single Cabinet nominee that he’s brought to the floor has been confirmed. Every single one.

And judicial nominees? All but ONE have been confirmed; we did two already this week and two more are scheduled for later in the week (without cloture). …

And again, I’m always amused when a Senator who led serial filibusters against nominees in the Bush administration is in high dudgeon over ONE judicial nominee being stopped.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.
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