Parties Gearing Up for Fight on Filibuster Reform

Sunday, 26 May 2013 02:00 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Lawmakers are gearing up for a fight this summer over how quickly President Barack Obama's nominees are confirmed.

Democrats are threatening overcome confirmation delays by seeking filibuster reform, angering Republicans who say their rival party is creating a "culture of intimidation," reports The Sun-Times of Las Vegas.

Republicans deny they are delaying Obama's second-term nominees, saying they are being approved more quickly than during former President George W. Bush's administration.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky accused Democrats of threatening to "blow the Senate up" if they don't get their own way.

Democrats say Republicans are overusing the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to bring a bill to the Senate floor. As a result, Democrats have considered instituting a change to Senate rules for when a filibuster can be allowed – the so-called "nuclear option" – that requires only a simple-majority vote.

"It is delay for delay’s sake,” New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, a member of Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s leadership team, said of the Republican's tactics. "If they think they can win a debate over whether the Senate will change its rules, they might very well be mistaken."

Reid, a Nevada Democrat, previously chose to allow Republicans to bring up amendments in exchange for avoiding filibusters. But Reid's patience with that agreement is running thin, saying "the agreement we reached in January has done virtually nothing to alleviate the obstruction we have seen for five months now."

Nominees encountering delays include Tom Perez for labor secretary, and Rob Cordray, whose nomination for the National Labor Relations Board has been on hold for 525 days.
"We’re not picking a fight on any nomination," Reid said. "We’re just saying this can’t go on."

However, Reid may wait for filibuster reform because the full Senate is getting ready to discuss immigration legislation. Reid has said he is "not going to do anything to interfere with the immigration bill."

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