This was in part filling the Republican promise to blockade all of President Obama's nominees to the D.C. Circuit court. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed to bring the other two nominees to the floor, in an escalation of the nominations fight, which Republicans are waging for the most dishonest of reasons.
"This week, Sen. Reid has teed up President Obama's court-packing plan for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, a court that some people call the second most important court in the nation," Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters. "The last thing we need to do when money is tight ... is throw more money at unneeded judges on this court, in an attempt to simply pack the court in order to tilt that court ideologically in a way that favors the big government agenda of the Obama administration."Republicans gave few reasons for opposition Rep. Mel Watt's nomination, though Wall Street's opposition is well-known. But they made history: This is the first time since 1843 that a sitting member of Congress has been filibustered for an executive appointment.
"We intend to stop it," he said.
Cornyn's court-packing claim is misleading -- it is a reference to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's attempts to expand the size of the Supreme Court; Obama merely wants to fill vacancies on the appellate level. But he repeated the talking point in multiple op-eds recently, laying the groundwork for a mass filibuster and pressuring GOP senators not to allow Obama to fill any of the three vacant seats on the D.C. Circuit court.
But wait, there's more. Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are threatening Janet Yellen's nomination to the Federal Reserve over, what else, Benghazi. McCain insists that this behavior, as well as the just-completed Republican filibusters, doesn't blow up the agreement senators came to earlier this year to end filibusters on some of Obama's executive branch nominees. As usual, John McCain is full of shit.
Prior to the Millett vote, Reid was non-committal about whether this would make him go nuclear: "I'm not going to talk about hypotheticals. [...] I don't know why anyone would vote against her." But he is bringing the other two nominees to the floor, and voted against cloture on Millett so he can bring her back. Additionally, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chair of the Judiciary Committee, reiterated the nuclear option threat at the outset of debate on Millett's cloture vote. And if it comes to it, Reid has key support: Vice President Joe Biden, who said "I think it's worth considering" changes to the Senate filibuster rules after the vote.
There's one way to end this, and all Democratic senators have to be behind it.
Email your Democratic senators, telling them Republican obstruction of judicial nominees must stop—even if that means using a simple majority of senators to change the rules of the Senate regarding the filibuster of judicial nominees.