Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Thursday, November 21st, 2013.

Dems Did It

Obama Administration

Filibuster rule change passed, 52-48. For the record, the Dems voting against the change were Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Mark Pryor (D-AR).

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Dropping Da Bomb

Obama Administration

Jeremy Peters reports in the New York Times that “Senate Democrats are on the verge of moving to eliminate the use of the filibuster against most presidential nominees.” This would be for cabinet posts and the federal judiciary, I understand. The filibuster could still be used for Supreme Court nominees and other legislation.

The problem, as Democrats see it, is that Republicans have effectively rewritten Senate rules to create a supermajority requirement for confirming presidential nominees. Filibustering cabinet-level officials, once extremely rare, is now routine.

While Democrats filibustered their share of judicial nominees when they were in the minority under President George W. Bush, including people named to the powerful District of Columbia appeals court, what Republicans say they intend to accomplish goes beyond simply blocking a vote. Their goal is to reshape the nation’s most powerful appeals court by shrinking it to just eight full-time judges. By law it has 11 judges who regularly hear cases.

Democrats said that was a step too far. The court is split with four judges appointed by Democrats and four by Republicans. But among the six semiretired judges who still hear cases, five are seen as conservative, one as liberal.

Ryan Grim writes for the Hufington Post,

It’s still not clear if Reid has the 51 votes to make the change, but it certainly looks close. There are 55 Democrats in total, which means Reid can lose up to four. HuffPost tracked down a number of Democrats on Tuesday to see who remains opposed to making the change, and only one, Levin, definitively said no. A couple of others, Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), avoided the question.

See also Gail Collins:

“If the Democrats proceed to use this nuclear option in this way, it will be Obamacare II,” cried Senator Lamar Alexander on Wednesday. This was in keeping with a brand-new Congressional tradition under which Republicans making remarks on the floor of the House or Senate are required to mention the Affordable Care Act at least once every 35 seconds. …

… Since the nominees were two women and a black man, Democrats have strongly suggested — well, you know.

“When the other side gets desperate, they turn to their last line of defense: accuse us Republicans of bias,” said Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa during a brief and rather desultory debate.

Yes, and when the Republicans get desperate they … wait for it.

“There is no crisis in the D.C. Circuit because they don’t have enough work to do as it is,” said Grassley. “There is a crisis occurring now all across the country as a result of the health care reform bill that often goes by the terminology of Obamacare.”

Honestly, it’s a wonder they make it through the opening prayer.

Grassley argued that reducing the size of the DC court by three judges would save the country $3 million a year. Whether a DC circuit court judge really costs the country a million a year is unclear, but Collins says $3 million is still a lot less than the $50 million Grassley once wanted to build an indoor rain forest near Des Moines.

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