Dems highlight GOP abuse of filibuster

March 16, 2010 at 5:28 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 16 (UPI) -- Democratic freshman and sophomore U.S. senators Tuesday took on Republicans to protest the GOP's use of filibusters to thwart Democratic efforts this year.

The Democrats, including Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Roland Burris of Illinois, focused on Republican blockage of President Barack Obama's nominees in the 100-member chamber, The Hill reported.

Leading off the floor speeches, Warner said, "One thing has become clear to me since becoming sworn in a little over a year ago. ... Some of the very safeguards that were created to make this a serious and responsible deliberative body have been abused in a way that damages this institution."

Warner and his classmates -- who met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to discuss filibuster reform -- argue Republicans have abused the power of placing a hold on nominees and waging filibusters to block legislation.

Among the stories the Democratic classes of 2006 and 2008 told were ones involving nominees who are not controversial but were used as bargaining chips in other negotiations with the administration, the Washington publication reported. The Obama administration has 64 nominees pending in the Senate.

"These are nominees where, despite overwhelming committee votes, they languish on the calendar for months, often because one senator has a completely different gripe about a completely unrelated issue," Warner said.

Whitehouse said "obstructionist tactics" are "preventing the government of the United States from doing its business. It is wrong for all Americans who depend on an effective United States government."

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