Did Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) sleep through the entire first Obama term, because something has to explain why he believed Senate Republicans when they promised not to filibuster presidential nominees just for the heck of it.
Shortly after the November 2012 election Reid had an opportunity to reform the filibuster but balked, instead believing Senate Republicans that their days of obstructionism were behind them. “The general agreement was that Republicans would only filibuster nominees in the case of extraordinary circumstances, and once again Republicans are expanding the definition of that term to make it entirely meaningless,” an aide to Reid told Talking Points Memo.
It’s crazy, I know. To think that Republicans would go back on their word simply to block the President. But they did. And instead of helping move along the president’s agenda as promised, Republicans have once again used the filibuster to block critical appointments, like Caitlin Halligan to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Halligan, whose appointment has been in limbo for years, has broad support among both conservative and liberals, but Republicans refuse to let her nomination proceed.
Halligan isn’t the only key presidential appointment at risk. Richard Cordray was nominated to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Republicans acknowledge Cordray is an excellent choice to head the agency and agree his credentials are impeccable. But they refuse to confirm Cordray, or anyone for the agency head, simply because they don’t like the agency.
Essentially Republicans are holding the Cordray nomination hostage via the filibuster. After they promised they wouldn’t. And Harry Reid is surprised.
Democrats are going to have to come up with a solution to get the Senate working during the president’s second term. With gun reform, immigration and the potential for at least one or two Supreme Court nominations, too much is on the line. It’s clear Senate Republicans understand the stakes. What’s not as clear is how come Senate Democrats don’t seem to.
Photo from donkeyhotey via flickr.