GOP Blocks More Obama Nominees in Senate

Senate Republicans appeared to be an ostacle to immediate approval of minor nominations by the U.S. President Monday following Democratic move that weakened the minority party’s traditional ability to block most presidential appointments.

The Republicans’ move shows that the GOP aimed at exacting a price for the changes majority Democrats muscled through the Senate in filibusters, or procedural delays minority senators can use to delay or kill nominations or bills, reports say. Photo: The White House/Flickr

Monday’s confrontation took place after the Senate set back to work for the first time since Democrats made those changes on Nov. 21, reports The Huffington Post.

That Democratic actions had angered Republicans, as they weakened the GOP’s ability to wage filibusters and because Obama’s fellows applied the change voting with a simple majority.

Republicans claim that Democrats should have been set to win a two-thirds majority to take on the change, which is more commonly used to make major rules changes.

On Monday, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., objected to a request by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for unanimous approval of more than 30 mostly minor appointees.

“Until I understand better how a United States senator is supposed to operate in a Senate without rules, I object,” Alexander said.

According to reports, the majority of the nominees blocked by Senate Republicans would have been appointed for mid- and lower level posts like ambassadors and federal judges.

The list of posts also included an undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness and a pick for the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.

“The quick approval for those nominees that Reid was seeking required the consent of all senators, so Alexander’s objection was enough to stop them — for now,” The Huffington Post writes.

The dispute came to a peak last month after Republican blocked the President’s picks for three vacancies for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. However, those nominees were not included in the group that was blocked by Senate Republicans on Monday.

Experts say that court is quite powerful as it rules on administration actions. The eight judges are divided between those picked by past Democratic and GOP presidents.

When Alexander likened GOP objections to Democratic actions against judges chosen by GOP President George W. Bush, Reid said, “That explanation is as flat as a bottle of beer open for six months.”

“The changes Democrats made allow filibusters to be ended by a simple majority of senators, not the 60 votes required since 1975. The new lower threshold applies to nearly all nominations but does not affect nominated Supreme Court justices or legislation,” Yahoo! News reports.

On Tuesday, the Senate is planned to vote on whether to confirm Patricia Millett which is suggested for the position of a judge on the D.C. circuit court. A vote had been initially scheduled for Monday but it was postponed as bad winter weather was making travel difficult.

By the way, there are two more Obama suggestions for the remaining vacancies on the D.C. court — attorney Cornelia “Nina” Pillard and U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins.

However, experts told reporters there is some doubts regarding the possiblility that all five will be approved for the positions. But time-consuming GOP delays are possible, especially against Watt.

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