November 12, 2013

Udall: Pattern of GOP Obstruction Signals Need for Reform to get Senate Working Again

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall decried yet another Republican filibuster of a highly qualified presidential nominee: Cornelia "Nina" Pillard, to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The D.C. Circuit is often considered "the second most important court in the land" because it hears some of the nation's most complex cases, yet Republicans refuse to allow confirmation votes on nominees to the three vacancies on the 11-seat court.

At the beginning of this Congress, Republicans agreed to filibuster nominees only under "extraordinary circumstances." Yet the pattern of obstruction has resumed. Just last month, Republicans blocked confirmation votes on two other qualified nominees, U.S. Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency; and Patricia Millett, to serve on the D.C. Circuit.

Udall has said since 2009 that a permanent change in the Senate rules - including by requiring a talking filibuster - is the only way to ensure the Senate will work for the American people again.

He issued the following statement:

"Once again the United States Senate is unable to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to advise and consent on key judicial and executive nominations because members of one party are refusing to allow a vote on a highly qualified presidential nominee. Senate Republicans aren't filibustering Nina Pillard's nomination out of concern with her qualifications, but to obstruct for their own political gain. It's time to return the Senate to a functioning body.

"Denying these qualified nominees an up-or-down vote is an abuse of the Senate Rules and contrary to the Republican leadership's commitment to reserve the filibuster for ‘extraordinary circumstances.' The Senate needs to break this Republican blockade one way or another if we have any hope of moving beyond government by dysfunction."