Democratic Senators took to the floor of the Senate today to protest the unprecedented level of obstruction towards nominees by their Republican colleagues.
The Obama administration has 64 nominees pending in the Senate.
There are currently 6 circuit court nominees awaiting a final confirmation vote:
• Jane Stranch and Thomas Vanaskie were nominated on August 6, 2009: pending 218 days
• Denny Chin and Rogeriee Thompson were nominated on October 6, 2009: pending 157 days
• Alberto Diaz and James Wynn were nominated on November 4, 2009: pending 128 days
Over half of Bush’s nominees were confirmed by either unanimous consent or voice vote. In this Congress, Republicans have required cloture votes on uncontroversial nominees such as as Barbara Keenan for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals who was ultimately confirmed by a vote of 99-0.
That’s right, 99-0. The same people who requested the vote did not even voice opposition.
They are stalling not on the basis of the nominees’ records or qualifications, but simply to obstruct Obama’s nominees. In addition to Keen, there is the example of Judge Greenaway, despite the fact that he was reported out of committee unopposed and was confirmed without opposition, he had to wait 235 days—almost eight months—for a final vote where he was confirmed 84-0. Jane Stranch and Thomas Vanaskie are rapidly approaching that same timeline, both have been waiting 218 days.
There are currently 102 federal court vacancies, and according to the Senate Judiciary Committee, 31 of those vacancies are classified as “judicial emergencies” because of the size of the caseload in the court or the amount of time a seat has sat empty.
Senator Franken (D-MN) summed it up well during his speech on the Senate floor today: