Washington, DC – The news that Senate Republicans are planning to filibuster the nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense highlights the missed opportunity for enacting more substantial Senate rules reform at the start of this 113th Congress, said the Communications Workers of America.
The following is a quote from George Kohl, Senior Director at CWA:
Shame on Senate Republicans for breaking with tradition and seeking to filibuster a Cabinet nominee. However, under the rules promulgated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Reid should keep the Senate in session and force the debate to continue to explain why Republicans are intent on blocking a fellow Republican nominee and decorated war veteran. Leader Reid accepted the obligation to sustain debate under these terms when he agreed to continue unchanged filibuster rules. Under broadly supported reform proposals, the burden would have been on Republicans to sustain their filibuster. Senator Reid should require those who are obstructing the nomination to fully and publicly explain why.
A real Senate reform package would have made the obstructionists hold the floor and keep 41 of their colleagues with them over a holiday weekend. Yet, Senator Levin, who is point person for this nomination via his position at the helm of the Armed Services Committee, opposed Senate rules reform and claimed that the rules already existed to keep those wishing to filibuster to hold the floor.
Regardless of the ultimate outcome of the Hagel nomination, the news of the impending filibuster is a reminder that the Senate rules still need real reform, that the Republicans in the Senate remain intent on breaking new ground in Senate obstruction, and that Senate Democrats who worked to scuttle more substantial reforms have forfeited their right to complain.