So much for gentlemen's agreements with Senate Republicans. Once again, Republicans filibustered two of President Obama's nominees—Rep. Mel Watt at the Federal Housing Finance administration and Patricia Millett for the D.C. Circuit court—Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will bring the two nominees back, as well as two more D.C. Circuit nominees, and some Democrats are calling for him to use the nuclear option to break the filibuster.
“People are pretty upset,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who said if he was the Senate leader he’d move toward a rules change. “Support is growing for changing the rules when they play these games.”Senators from Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to Kay Hagan (D-NC) sounded their frustration after these votes, frustration that's going to just build, something Reid might be counting on. Reid apparently wants to give Republicans more rope with other pending nominations, particularly Janet Yellen at the Federal Reserve, a nomination Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham are threatening over Benghazi (because that makes sense).
“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,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) “It proves once again the need to reform the Senate’s rules.”
“I’m going to file cloture on two other D.C. Circuit [nominees] and then make a decision. I’m not making it today,” Reid told reporters following a closed-door Democratic lunch. When informed that Republicans don’t believe Reid will invoke the nuclear option, Reid said, “Well, time will tell, won’t it?”Reid had the votes and the will of his caucus to end the filibuster for executive nominations this summer, when Republicans backed down and allowed some long-blocked nominees through. He might not have the votes right now for ending the filibuster on judicial nominations, but more specious opposition from Republicans could force a change of mind among the handful of reluctant Democrats.