October 31, 2013

Udall Statement on Need for Reform to End Obstruction, Get the Senate Working Again

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall renewed his call for the U.S. Senate to reform its rules after Republicans yet again blocked progress by filibustering qualified presidential nominees: U.S. Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and Patricia Millett to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia 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.

At the beginning of this Congress, Republicans agreed to filibuster nominees only under "extraordinary circumstances." Yet the pattern of obstruction continued. In July, after months of Republican stalling and delay, the Senate finally reached an agreement to confirm several long-blocked nominees and stop abusing the rules for partisan gain. Udall said today's filibusters show the Senate is right back in the same dysfunctional situation.

He issued the following statement:

"The pattern of ‘obstruct and delay' has returned as the norm in the U.S. Senate with today's filibuster of two highly qualified nominees. It proves once again the need to reform the Senate's rules.

"Mel Watt and Patricia Millett deserved an up-or-down vote. Yet rather than debating and working out a path forward, the opposing senators blocked the nominations. Their actions show they didn't want more debate, they wanted to block qualified nominees. New Mexicans - all Americans - expect better from the U.S. Senate.

"I have said for a long time: The Senate is broken. I called for changes in the Senate rules at the beginning of this Congress, but we didn't do enough. And now we're right back in the same dysfunctional situation. I'm going to keep fighting for a talking filibuster and other changes to end the tyranny of the minority."