July 25, 2014

Kerrey proposes changes to end partisan tricks in Congress

Democratic United States Senate candidate, Bob Kerrey, has made proposals aimed at the partisan tricks Democrats and Republicans in the Senate use to derail presidential nominations.

Kerrey, who is running for his old Senate seat, tells Nebraska Radio Network it’s important to take a stand now, as a candidate.

“I know, from personal experiences, that some of these things, if you don’t pledge to change the behavior before the election, (it’s) very difficult to change your behavior afterwards,” Kerrey says.

Kerrey makes three promises. He will not support any filibuster unless the Senator launching it will stay on the Senate floor. He will not place a secret hold on a presidential appointee to delay confirmation by the full Senate. He will support an up or down vote on any nominees within 60 days of committee approval.

Senators have a number of parliamentarian maneuvers available to delay full Senate consideration of nominees to a president’s administration. Filibusters now can be launched without a senator having to hold the floor. Senators can place a “hold” on an appointment in secret, a tactic once used to allow absent senators to return to Washington and have a say on the nomination, but often now employed indefinitely. In today’s highly partisan environment, the Senate rarely takes up nominees shortly after the committee passes judgment.

Kerrey says he’s not sure Nebraskans understand how Congress operates at present.

“What they do know is they don’t like the behavior,” Kerrey says. “They regard Washington, D.C. as dysfunctional. They’re right. It is dysfunctional. And there are cases where it is intentionally so. And these three instances are good examples of self-inflicted dysfunction.”

Kerrey says the president deserves to have who he wants in his administration.

“Regardless of your position, the president’s campaign just made it clear what his positions were. He’s going to nominate individuals and if they pass the question of moral turpitude and the question of conflicts-of-interest and all the other sorts of things, I do not think they should be prevented from getting an up or down vote,” says Kerrey.

Kerrey has sent a letter to Republican Deb Fischer to join him in supporting the reforms. Fischer has declined comment.