barack obama

White House Blasts Senate GOP for Filibuster of 11th Circuit Nominee

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney began his press briefing today by pointing out the absurdity of the Senate GOP’s persistent stalling of the president’s judicial nominees, most recently 11th Circuit nominee Adalberto Jordán.

Jordán is a consensus nominee supported by both of his home-state senators – Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Bill Nelson – and if confirmed will become the first Cuban American to sit on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over the largest Cuban American population in the country. What’s more, the seat he has been nominated to fill has been officially designated a judicial emergency.

Despite his qualifications, bipartisan support, and the historic import of the nomination, the GOP filibustered Jordán’s nomination for four months. After the Senate finally voted to end the filibuster last night Jordán’s nomination was held up once more for reasons having nothing to do with him or with the people of Florida, Georgia and Alabama. One senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, used an obscure rule to take Jordán’s nomination hostage to promote a bill curtailing foreign aid to Egypt.

Carney told the press:

Before I get started, I wanted to make note, if I could, of a development in the Senate. As you may know, but may not, the Senate is soon scheduled to confirm Adalberto Jordán, our nominee for the 11th Circuit. Jordán is a current, well-respected District Court judge, supported by Senators Nelson and Rubio, and he was reported unanimously out by the Judiciary Committee months ago. And he will now be the first Cuban American on the 11th Circuit.

Despite his sterling credentials and the bipartisan support that he enjoys, Republicans filibustered this nomination. To overcome the filibuster, Leader Reid had to file cloture, a procedure that while once extraordinary is now commonplace out of necessity. Cloture was invoked last night, 89 to 5, but Republicans are still forcing the Senate to burn time in a blatant delay tactic. Leader Reid had to go through extraordinary measures to get a judge confirmed with no Republican opposition, and a seat he will fill is a judicial emergency seat.

Now, the reason why I raise this, even though Mr. Jordán will be confirmed, is that it is so indicative of a breakdown in the system when a nominee as highly qualified as he is, with bipartisan support as he has, who's reported out of committee unanimously, still faces filibusters. And you have to ask yourself why that is. It's just simply delay tactics, and they're shameful.

There are 17 other judicial nominations pending on the Senate calendar; 14 were reported out unanimously; seven of those would fill judicial emergencies and seven are represented by at least one Republican senator. And yet the delay tactics continue.

With that, I will take your questions. Hello.
 

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Reid Challenges Republicans on their Continued Obstruction of Nominees

In a speech on the Senate floor today, Majority Leader Harry Reid criticized Senate Republicans for neglecting their “constitutional obligation” to confirm presidential nominees. As People For’s Marge Baker wrote last week inUS News & World Report, unprecedented obstruction from Senate Republicans has led to a vacancy crisis in the federal courts and contributed to Americans’ loss of confidence in Congress.


In his weekly radio address on Saturday, President Obama specifically called out Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who after complaining about the slow speed of Senate confirmations is now threatening to block every one of the president’s nominees.


Here are Sen. Reid’s remarks:


Americans believe Congress is broken. And it’s no mystery why.
Political divisions in this chamber are so great they often prevent the Senate from performing even its most fundamental duties.


The divisions are so great they have prevented this body from confirming presidential nominees – our constitutional obligation.
These days, it’s no longer enough to be a qualified nominee.
It’s no longer enough to have bipartisan support.


And in the case of judicial nominees, it’s no longer enough to be reported unanimously out of committee.


Last year, my Republican colleagues blocked or delayed scores of outstanding nominees. Why? Because they want to defeat President Obama, who made those nominations. That’s their number one goal.


And at the end of last year, Republicans refused to allow votes on 16 judicial nominees who were reported out of committee unanimously.


Unfortunately, this year may bring more of the same. Already this year, some Republicans have gone to the floor and threatened to drag out the confirmation process for every nominee for the rest of the year.


This Republican obstructionism is supposedly retribution for President Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray – an eminently qualified nominee – to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.


With a qualified leader at the helm, the Bureau will be able to effectively protect middle class families from the greed and excess of big Wall Street banks.


It will not impact smaller financial services firms that help Americans who don’t use banks. And it will not impact banks that deal fairly with consumers.


But it will serve as a watchdog against the kinds of abuses that nearly collapsed our financial system in 2008.
President Obama’s right to recess appoint Mr. Cordray is protected in the Constitution.


President Bush had the same right to make recess appointments – even though Democrats kept the Senate in pro forma session.


Bush didn’t exercise that right – or challenge the pro forma sessions in court – because Democrats worked with him to confirm hundreds of his nominees.


Unfortunately, Republicans have refused to work with President Obama as Democrats worked with President Bush.


Instead they are threatening political payback and more delays.
This brand of obstructionism is the reason Americans are disillusioned with Congress. They believe Congress can’t get anything done.


It will take collaboration between Democrats and Republicans to turn that perception around.


We should show the American people that with cooperation between our two parties, this body can accomplish great things.

 

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