One of the questions that has arisen since Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) 13% – with the help of all but three of his party’s senators – invoked the nuclear option to change the Senate’s rules (essentially eliminating the filibuster for nominations) is what the Senate minority (in this case, Republicans) can do about it.
There are a number of parliamentary maneuvers in the Senate rules that would allow the minority to make Reid’s majority pay a heavy price for his elimination of minority rights and the curtailment of debate in the country’s formerly most deliberative body. Those parliamentary rules allow even a minority to virtually shutdown the Senate.
Yesterday, the House voted on the controversial Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 (S.679), which would alter the Senate’s role of “Advice and Consent” by reducing the number of presidential appointments that require the consent of the Senate. The bill relinquishes the Senate’s constitutional duty to consent to nominations in which it concluded no such check is necessary because the office itself is of little or no authority or consequence.
The key vote is listed below, along with a breakdown of how Republicans and Democrats voted. Because the bill appeared on the Suspension Calendar, it required a two-thirds vote to pass.
Yesterday, the Senate voted on the nomination of Robert E. Bacharach to be the United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. His qualifications or views were not the principal reason for our opposition; it was the fact that the vote on his nomination at this time was a violation of tradition and precedents in the Senate known as the Thurmond/Leahy Rule. The Rule provides that the confirmation of lifetime judges (especially Court of Appeals judges) should not proceed in the months immediately preceding a presidential election.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had said that Bacharach would likely be the last circuit court nomination of the year, ending the threat that the Senate would try yet again to break the Thurmond/Leahy Rule.
The vote results are listed below, along with a list of the Republicans who voted incorrectly (no Democrats voted against his nomination):
Last Thursday, the Senate re-voted – yes, you read that right, re-voted! – on the nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte to be the Ambassador to the Republic of El Salvador. In December, the nomination was rejected due to Ms. Aponte’s former relationship with a high-ranking Cuban spy and an opinion piece she wrote questioning the religious and pro-family culture of Salvadorans. This time, however, 8 Senators switched their votes from NO to YES. As a result, the Senate invoked cloture on her re-nomination, paving the way for confirmation. The vote results are listed below, along with a list of the Republicans who voted incorrectly (no Democrats voted against her nomination):
Yesterday, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the nomination of Andrew Hurwitz to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Mr. Hurwitz has a history of encouraging judges to legislate from the bench, and said he would use previous Supreme Court decisions on relevant issues before consulting the United States Constitution. Unfortunately, for the American people, he will now be bringing his brand of judicial activism into our court system. The vote results are listed below, along with a list of the Republicans who voted incorrectly (including those who have now lost their 100% lifetime rating from National Right to Life*) and the Democrats who voted correctly:
*National Right to Life key voted against the nomination as well