In April, ThinkProgress noted that Republicans were blocking an increasing number of President Obama’s nominees to pursue ideological witch hunts and to facilitate self-interested horse trades. Two months later, a number of key nominees are still waiting and Senate Republicans are bottling up dozens more of Obama’s nominees in order to delay action on key Obama agenda items like health care and climate change legislation by consuming one of the most precious resources in the Senate: floor time. Roll Call explains:
Reid came to the floor three times Wednesday and several more times throughout the week to plead with his Republican colleagues to stop holding up a growing number of President Barack Obama’s appointees. The Majority Leader’s appeal was his most forceful yet, and aides say he has no plans to abandon the effort anytime soon.
“I would hope that people would search their conscience and try to get these done,” Reid said, explaining that procedural motions that he could employ to clear the nominees would eat up too much floor time. “It would take until the summer, until we finish the July recess and beyond, for us to get this done, filing cloture on every one of these. I hope it doesn’t come to that.”
Absent unanimous consent from all senators, no issue may be considered by the full Senate unless it is given time on the Senate floor for debate. Although such a debate can be cut off by a cloture motion — a vote receiving the support of 60 senators — such a motion itself consumes floor time. Thus, by indiscriminately objecting to President Obama’s nominees, a single senator can effectively force Reid to choose between confirming essential government personnel or advancing health care reform, cap and trade, the federal budget or anything else on the Senate’s agenda. Floor time is limited and Senate conservatives are running out the clock to ensure that nothing gets done.
Among the nominees conservatives are holding hostage are Dawn Johnsen, President Obama’s exceptionally qualified nominee to head the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, Harold Koh, a leading expert in international law who is nominated to be the chief legal adviser to the State Department, and Judge David Hamilton, a court of appeals nominee currently being blocked because of false claims that he gave preferential treatment to Muslims in favor of Christians.