WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — President Barack Obama showed his support for a move by Senate Democrats making it harder to block his nominees, citing repeated “abuse” of such tactics that are targeting his administration rather than the nominees themselves.
Obama spoke shortly after the Senate voted 52-48 to weaken the power of the filibuster. The vote would alter the rule that requires a 60-vote majority to assure a yes-or-no vote on the president’s nominations for his cabinet, the courts and other agencies. The change voted on by the Senate would now only require a simple majority to move a nominee toward a final vote.
The change will make it more difficult for the minority Republicans to block his nominees. The president noted that his nominees have seen unprecedented level of blockade that “isn’t normal.”
Obama stated that “only 20 presidential candidates had to overcome filibusters in the last 60 years,” yet 30 of his nominees have hit such blockades in just the last five years. Obama noted that for the first time in history a candidate for secretary of defense – Republican Chuck Hagel – was blocked by a Republican filibuster.
Obama said that the “unprecedented pattern of obstruction” in Congress has “escalated” too far, and that Americans can no longer “keep falling prey to Washington politics.” He pointed out that the while the majority of George W. Bush’s judicial nominees were confirmed, the majority of his own nominees have been obstructed.
He pointed out that when his nominees have been confirmed, there is very little dissent – indicated that the moves to block them were not based on substance but rather on pure politics.
“In each of these cases it’s not been that they opposed the person,” said Obama. “It was simply because they oppose the policies that the American people voted for in the last election.”
He said it was more about the GOP looking to “re-fight the results of an election.”
While pointing out that “neither party has been blameless for these tactics,” he said there is a block of Republicans in Congress that is running on a platform against government, only to become elected government officials dedicated to making “government not work as often as possible.”
“The gears of government have to work,” said Obama.