Here’s some food for thought:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will force a vote on President Barack Obama‘s nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration when the Senate reconvenes in three weeks.
Reid’s announcement Tuesday that he will file a motion for cloture, a procedural step to limit debate and lead to a roll-call vote, follows the alleged attempt by a Nigerian extremist to blow up a U.S.-bound commercial flight on Christmas Day.
Reid had sought Senate consent to confirm TSA nominee Erroll Southers without floor debate, along with multiple other nominations, before the Senate adjourned for its winter break on Christmas Eve.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., objected, calling for more debate and temporarily halting the confirmation, as part of DeMint’s opposition to unionizing TSA, a move he believes Obama will push.
In fact, DeMint didn’t just oppose the unanimous consent motion on Christmas Eve, he has had a hold on Southers’ confirmation ever since he was nominated. He is alleged to be singlehandedly responsible for Southers not having been immediately confirmed.
We keep hearing all the time about how Senate Republicans have crippled the confirmation process with endless holds and blocks and what have you. And because the Senate is full of all these so-called arcane rules, both written and unwritten, most people who haven’t spent half a lifetime studying this arcana just assume that there was nothing the poor old Democrats could do about the holds and blocks.
So it’s an eye-opener, isn’t it, that all you have to do is file a cloture motion and force a vote? (And this, after all, is now the routine procedure for almost anything to move forward in the Senate.)
Which raises the question: why the bleep didn’t Harry Reid already do this a long time ago? Especially since he has those magic 60 votes in the Democratic caucus to back him up, the magic 60 votes that are supposed to be so magical precisely for this reason.
Why the bleep didn’t he do it for Dawn Johnsen also, who was nominated to head the Office of Legal Counsel, and whose nomination was returned to President Obama when the Senate adjourned on December 24?
And for “Mary L. Smith, tapped to head the Tax Division (of the Justice Department); and Christopher H. Schroeder, proposed as assistant attorney general for legal policy”? And for “M. Patricia Smith, the New York state labor commissioner nominated as the Labor Department’s solicitor of labor”? Their nominations, too, were returned to the president, ostensibly due to Republican obstructionism. But now it’s clear that that’s just Harry Reid hiding behind the skirts of this whole they-put-a-hold-so-what-can-we-do myth.
Evidently, in the Senate, it takes two people to make a hold unbreakable. Obstructionists like Jim DeMint. And good old Harry Reid, shrugging and looking the other way. And pretending that he doesn’t have any damn choice.