Senators Fight over Nominations in Rare All Night Session

Image: Senators Fight over Nominations in Rare All Night Session

Thursday, 12 Dec 2013 07:08 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Last month's rules change allowing a simple majority in place of the usual 60 votes to confirm a presidential nomination necessitated a rare all-night Senate session Wednesday into Thursday, as lawmakers debated a chain of appointments, C-SPAN reported.

Republican lawmakers angered at the rules change pushed through by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to cede their allotted time, requiring the extra hours.

At least one Republican senator, Wyoming's John Barrasso, a trained physician, used his time early Thursday morning to criticize Obamacare's impact on the patient-doctor relationship.

The Republican delaying tactics frustrated Reid, who threatened, according to CBS News, "If we have to work through Christmas, we're going to do that."

The Nevada Democrat complained that Republicans were "eating up days of time" in choosing not to move expeditiously on the nominees.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was a mistake to spend so much time on nominations that are not emergencies, but that there was little Republicans could do since Reid was in charge of the Senate's schedule, Roll Call reported.

The Kentucky Republican said the Senate should instead be debating a defense bill and tougher Iran sanctions.

The Senate is working its way through a long list of stalled nominees sent up by President Barack Obama, including federal judgeships, a commission seat on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sub-cabinet posts, and the top official at the Department of Homeland Security.

Among the nominees approved overnight was law professor Cornelia Pillard to the powerful United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, The New York Times reported.

By 6 a.m. Eastern Time the senate chaplain had recited morning prayers imploring God to give the senators wisdom to do what is "right, just and fair."

After the senators recited the Pledge of Allegiance they continued to plow through their list of pending nominees.

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