Friday, February 12, 2010

Outrage At Filibuster Grows As Labor Board Nominee Is Blocked

Frustration with the filibuster reached new heights when Senate Republicans, joined by Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, blocked President Obama's nominee for the National Labor Relations Board, Craig Becker. The votes were 52 in favor, 33 opposed–eight votes short of the supermajority of 60 needed to head off the threat of a filibuster. Democrats registered their outrage at the Republicans' unprecedented use of the maneuver:

"I'm in my thirty-sixth year. I've never seen anything like it," said Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), noting that no previous Republican Senate leader would have allowed his party to filibuster such a routine nomination.

Leahy said that the overuse of filibusters by the GOP was leading Democrats to consider ways to modify it.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), another long-serving member, said that abuse of the filibuster is unsustainable. "I think it will either fall of its own weight -- it should fall of its own weight -- or it will fall after some massive conflict on the floor, which has happened in the past where there have been rulings from the chair that have led to reform," Levin told the Huffington Post, adding that the filibuster should be restricted to major issues.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) angrily pointed out that for decades, Republicans nominated pro-management and Democrats nominated pro-labor individuals to the board–and that the Republicans' filibuster threat of a board nominee is unprecedented. Watch:

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