The question is not whether the Senate reforms passed in January have failed; it’s painfully obvious they already have. The question, rather, is what senators are likely to do about it.
The status quo is already farcical. We’ve seen Republicans launch the first-ever filibuster of a cabinet nominee, filibuster a CIA nominee, and they’re set to filibuster President Obama’s Labor Secretary nominee, who hasn’t even been introduced yet. The GOP is filibustering judicial nominees they don’t like and judicial nominees they do like. Republicans have also already vowed to use filibusters to stop the Obama administration from enforcing the law as it relates to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and to stop the president’s nominee to lead the ATF.
With this in mind, President Obama talked to Senate Democrats today, asking them to do something about the ridiculous obstructionism.
In a closed door lunch meeting with Senate Democrats on Tuesday, President Obama expressed his frustration with Republican slow-walking and filibustering of key nominees, and urged them to address the issue, according to a senior Senate Democratic aide. […]
The White House official said Obama “made it clear that it was a priority – particularly with judges and asked for more help identifying nominees and getting them passed.”
This is, of course, not new. In the 111th Congress (2009 and 2010), we saw Senate Republicans take obstructionist abuses to levels unseen in American history. Then it got worse. Then it got worse again. Obama hasn’t made Senate reforms a top agenda item – how the chamber conducts its business is up to its members, not the White House – but he’s spoken out on the issue, only to find meaningless hand-shake deals that GOP members quickly ignore.
So, as the dysfunction intensifies, will 2013 be any different?
Brian Beutler reported this morning that there’s a realization among Senate Democrats that the “watered-down rules reform deal the parties struck early this Congress has failed,” and “preliminary discussions” are underway.
“The general agreement was that Republicans would only filibuster nominees in the case of extraordinary circumstances, and once again Republicans are expanding the definition of that term to make it entirely meaningless,” the aide said.
The source said conversations are still too preliminary for Democrats to lay out publicly potential avenues of recourse just yet.
I won’t get my hopes up, but if Democrats could at least agree amongst themselves that the status quo is untenable, it’d be a good start.