Local Viewpoints
9:41 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Udall: Changes Are Reducing Senate Gridlock

  

Credit Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
  Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall praised the confirmation of Patricia Millett to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She is the first nominee to be confirmed by the Senate since changing its rules to prohibit filibusters of executive branch and judicial nominees, other than those to the U.S. Supreme Court. Since 2009, Udall has led the fight in the Senate to cut through gridlock, and he said Millett's confirmation by a vote of 56-38 is evidence that the Senate is finally working again when it comes to these important nominees. “After years of unprecedented obstruction of the president’s nominees, the Senate finally took steps last month to rein in the abuse of the filibuster — and already we're seeing the benefit of our fight to make the Senate work for all Americans," Udall said. “Patricia Millett deserved an up-or-down vote in October, but she instead became another example of a highly qualified nominee blocked purely for partisan gain. Patricia Millett’s confirmation today isn't a radical move. What's radical is that the Senate is finally doing what our founders intended — exercising its advise and consent responsibilities. A majority of the body approved of Millett's confirmation, so she now heads to the federal bench." “With today's vote of 56-38, the Senate is finally operating according to the majority rule standard required by the Constitution when it comes to executive branch and judicial nominees," Udall added. "If nominees are qualified, they get an up or down vote in the Senate. If a majority is opposed, they can reject a nominee. But a minority can no longer delay them indefinitely. This is how our democracy is intended to work."  At the beginning of this Congress, Republicans agreed to filibuster nominees only under “extraordinary circumstances.” Yet the pattern of obstruction continued and many well qualified judicial and executive branch nominees were denied up or down confirmation votes.  Millett was one of four D.C. Circuit Court nominees blocked by a Republican filibuster, despite their impeccable credentials and the support of a majority of the Senate. Republicans also recently blocked the nomination of U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Udall continues to fight for further rules changes, such as a "talking filibuster," which would require senators to go to the floor make their case for blocking legislation.