A highly charged partisan fight in Washington has reached a new level as Democrats move to keep Republicans from using the filibuster to block judicial and executive branch nominees.
Sen. Mike Johanns harshly criticizes the top Democrat in the Senate, Majority Floor Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, for moving to end the filibuster on the president’s nominees.
“He makes it impossible for a Mike Johanns or a Deb Fischer to represent Nebraska,” Johanns tells reporters during a conference call.
Both Johanns and Fischer, as Republicans, are in the minority in a Senate controlled by Democrats.
Republicans have used the filibuster to block some of President Barack Obama’s nominees from coming before the body for a vote. The fight has often focused on the federal court in Washington, D. C., which often wields tremendous power in judicial decisions. Republicans and Democrats often clash over the political leaning of the court.
In a 52-to-48 vote, the United States Senate prohibited filibusters from being used against judicial and executive branch nominees. Nominees to the United States Supreme Court are not included in the ban.
Majority Leader Reid stated he had to resort to the unprecedented step to overcome Republican obstructionism.
Yet, Johanns says the Senate has been moving to approve nominees and an agreement reached only weeks ago promised not to use the so-called “nuclear option” of banning the filibuster.
According to Johanns’ office, the Senate has confirmed 38 nominees by President Obama, compared to only 14 for President George W. Bush during a comparable time period. The Senate has approved 209 Obama nominees overall, including two Supreme Court nominees, compared to 218 Bush nominees.
Johanns says the rule change silences the minority and diminishes the Senate’s roll of advice and consent to presidential nominees in the Constitution.
Johanns, though, sees more behind this than the nomination process.
“I really, really believe that in Harry Reid’s desire to change the conversation away from Obamacare he’s changed the country and he’s changed the Senate, but that’s what this is about,”
Johanns says Democrats are worried trouble with the healthcare law will hurt them at the polls next year.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]