As Travis Waldron explained this morning, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) put a hold on a transportation bill that has broad bipartisan support in an attempt to force the Senate to enact his preferred policy on aid to Egypt. Although Paul’s tactic cannot prevent the widely supported bill from passing if Majority Leader Reid Harry (D-NV) decides to force the issue, Paul’s recalcitrance can force the Senate to waste up to 30 hours of floor time before it can receive a final vote.
Unfortunately, Paul is not just restricting this obstructionist tactic to one bill:
Paul is holding up confirmation of one of President Obama’s judicial nominees, Adalberto Jose Jordan, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. The nomination cleared a procedural hurdle with an overwhelming 89-5 vote Monday evening.
But Paul is forcing the Senate to conduct at least some of the remaining 30 hours of required debate on the judicial nominee. Often, that time requirement is waived by senators when an issue gains wide bipartisan support.
Thirty hours does not sound like a lot, until you multiply it across all the other business that the Senate needs to consider. Indeed, if Paul can force 30 hours of delay every time the Senate tries to confirm a single nominee, he can prevent Congress from completing any other business for years:
This is why the Senate’s broken rules cannot coexist with the Tea Party. So long as there are just a handful of senators willing to engage in maximal delay over petty disagreements, each individual member of the Senate cannot enjoy this power to gum up the entire body.