On Saturday, the Senate closed off what was supposed to be its last day of business for the year (the Senate may need to reconvene, now that Speaker John Boehner has blown up a deal to extend tax cuts to middle class Americans). Yet the Senate closed out the year without confirming any of the 21 judicial nominees currently awaiting a vote on the Senate floor. Worse, according to the Senate’s chief obstructionist, these judicial nominees — along with more than two dozen other nominations — are intentionally being held hostage in order to prevent President Obama from recess appointing anyone to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:
At the end of a rare Saturday session, the Senate’s last day of official business for the year, McConnell blocked an effort by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to confirm more than 50 executive and judicial branch nominations awaiting Senate action.
And he laid out a condition to releasing his objection: “confirmation from the administration that it will respect practice and precedent on recess appointments.”
McConnell added that he needed from the White House “assurances that have been routinely given at this point with regard to recess appointments.”
It’s unclear just what “practice or precedent” McConnell is referring to, but there is no one who has less standing to complain about unprecedented action than McConnell himself — the lead architect of the Senate GOP’s nihilistic campaign to make it impossible for President Obama to govern. Without an agency head in place, the CFPB cannot perform many of its core functions. Yet, Senate Republicans are filibustering CFPB director-in-waiting Richard Cordray in order to sabotage this newly created consumer protection agency. If McConnell really cares one bit about respecting “practice and precedent,” he can show it by ending this blockade and recognizing that the Senate minority does not have the legitimate authority to effectively repeal an entire agency.
McConnell could also show that he respects practice and precedent by returning the Senate to the way it operated before he became minority leader. Simply put, no one in recent American history has done more to abuse the filibuster than Mitch McConnell — as demonstrated by the massive spike in votes attempting to break filibusters once McConnell took over the minority caucus:
President Obama is not powerless, however, against McConnell’s effort to sabotage the CFPB. If McConnell will not end his blockade, Obama can invoke the Roosevelt Precedent, which allows him to appoint Cordray the second the Senate adjourns for the year.