No more filibuster? Okay, fine, how long can you stay up? It was a question tested by Republicans this past week as they kept the Senate up at ungodly hours delaying nominations. Keep in mind these are nominations that the minority party no longer have a proper say in, thanks to filibuster rule changes. A Senate ceasefire was eventually called in time for the weekend. It was unfortunately still fourth-grade level stuff, as Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) describes it. Though he points 99 percent of the blame towards U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell commented on Wednesday that:
“I just listened to the majority leader complaining about what we’re doing this week. He’s the one in charge of the schedule,” McConnell said. ”He’s spending a week here on nonessential nominations, none of which are emergencies.” (Politico)
It’s an unfortunate madness when there’s nothing left to do but engage in around the clock talkathons. But as Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla) comments:
“This isn’t about obstructionism. This is about `You limited our rights.” (FOXNews)
The filibuster has been what Sen. Paul described on the Senate floor Thursday as being “dismembered, dishonored and indefinitely detained” by the majority party leaving a weakened Congress.
“Though they can no longer block nominees, Senate Republicans are using their remaining procedural toolbox to poke and annoy the majority. They are now occasionally refusing to override the Senate’s “two-hour rule,” an arcane restriction that requires the consent of all 100 senators to allow Senate committees from meeting more than two hours after the Senate comes into session. That rule is routinely overruled — but that’s changed in a post-nuclear Senate.” (Politco)
“According to Senate rules, a certain number of hours of debate can still be demanded by any senator once a filibuster is broken. Known as “post-cloture debate time” in Senate parlance, up to eight hours of debate time is allowed for nine of the 10 nominees on Majority Leader Harry Reid’s list. For Johnson, the homeland security nominee, debate can last for 30 hours. Typically, Senate leaders would agree to allow that debate time to run with the Senate out of session. But Republicans are angry about the changes to the filibuster rules and are requiring the Senate to stay in session.” (CNN)
It’s gotten to the point that Paul was quoted as saying to the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call that he didn’t think unanimous consent would happen “until hell freezes over.” (NYT)
Except for the weekend. They can agree on the weekend but next week, oh boy. They managed a Senate ceasefire this Friday but next week the Ryan-Murray budget deal is coming up and Janet Yellen’s nomination. With the way things are looking, the Senate is going to be hanging their stockings this Christmas season above the Congressional floor.
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