Senate Votes to Overrule Filibusters of Executive Branch Appointees

"Over the six decades before I took office, only 20 presidential nominees to executive positions had to overcome filibusters," Obama said. "Over the six decades before I took office, only 20 presidential nominees to executive positions had to overcome filibusters," Obama said. Carolyn Kaster/AP

Senate Majority Harry Reid has gone nuclear, and the Senate is (very modestly) changed.

After the Senate again failed to move Patricia Millett's nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid challenged the ruling of the chair that 60 votes would be needed.

The Senate then voted, by simple majority, to disapprove of the ruling of the chair. Very few Democrats—Sens. Mark Pryor, Carl Levin, and Joe Manchin—joined Republicans to vote to preserve the 60-vote rule. Reid had 52 Democratic votes (including his own) to support the change.

So from now on, executive and judicial nominees--excluding Supreme Court nominations--can be approved by a simple, 51-vote majority.

In a White House statement, President Obama said he supported the actions by the majority of senators to change the filibuster rules. Though he said Democrats were partially to blame for the way the Senate has gotten over years, he said things have to change.

"Over the six decades before I took office, only 20 presidential nominees to executive positions had to overcome filibusters," Obama said. "In just under five years since I took office, nearly 30 nominees have been treated this way.  These are all public servants who protect our national security, look out for working families, keep our air and water clean. This year alone, for the first time in history, Senate Republicans filibustered a president's nominee for the secretary of Defense who used to be a former Republican senator. They tried everything they could to hold up our EPA Administrator. They blocked our nominee for our top housing regulator at a time when we need more help for more families to afford a home and prevent what has caused mortgage meltdowns from happening again."

"Public service is not a game," Obama said. "It is a privilege," and Americans "deserve better."

At a press conference, Reid said that "this is not a time for celebration." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said, is "a day to be sad." Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., echoed McConnell, R-Ky., saying that "today is a sad day."

Asked if he's concerned about McConnell fully doing away with the filibuster, Reid said "Let him do it...Let him do whatever he wants...This is the way it had to be. The Senate has changed."

Sen. Pryor, one of the three Democrats to vote against the rule change, said in a statement that "today's use of the 'nuclear option' could permanently damage the Senate."

Sen. Levin, who also voted against the change, said that "when the precedent is set that a majority can change the rules at will on judges, that precedent will be used to change the rules on consideration of legislation, and down the road, the hard-won protections and benefits for our people's health and welfare will be less secure."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.