Fix the Senate Now

Ahead of 2014 Elections, Senate GOP Obstruction Exacts Toll on U.S. Election Assistance Commission

Mass-Blockade of Executive Branch Nominees Has Harmed EAC – the Agency Tasked with Ensuring Modern and Functional Elections in the U.S.

Washington, DC – One week out from Election Day 2014, the federal agency tasked with ensuring modern and functional elections in our country is toothless due to Senate Republicans’ obstruction.

Thomas Hicks and Myrna Perez were nominated to serve on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in April 2010 and March 2011, respectively. However, due to Senate Republicans’ mass-obstruction of executive branch nominees, both Hicks and Perez are still awaiting confirmation, as are the two more recently nominated Republican nominees to the Commission. As a result, the EAC is incapable of fulfilling its stated mission.

In the aftermath of the troubled 2000 election cycle, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 established the EAC in an effort to bolster assistance to state and local elections officials and to maintain up-to-date standards and recommendations regarding voting technology and equipment. While the gridlock in the Senate has made the EAC inoperable, the need for the EAC’s work remains acute.  

The bipartisan election commission chaired by Republican lawyer Ben Ginsberg and Democratic lawyer Bob Bauer, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, touted the importance of the EAC in a report issued last January on the state of the American voting experience. The report’s most striking finding was that the maximum shelf life for most voting equipment was 10 years. As a result, the EAC’s regulatory oversight, formal advisory opinions, certification, and testing capabilities should be filling an essential void. However, as the report noted, “Without a fully functioning EAC to adopt the new standards, many new technologies that might better serve local election administrators are not being brought to the marketplace.”

Helping ensure that voting equipment is modern and capable should not be a controversial mission or subject the EAC nominees to endless Senate gridlock. However, the EAC example fits a disturbing larger pattern of Senate Republicans’ obstructionism impeding basic and critical government functions. From blocking a Surgeon General nominee despite the Ebola outbreak to refusing to fill critical judicial vacancies to blocking ambassador nominees to global hotspot nations, the recent mass-obstruction of nominees is inflicting a consequential toll.

Add the EAC example to the list of why the Fix the Senate Now coalition supports the “use it or lose it” reform proposal. Those dedicated to Senate gridlock and time wasting should have to either use the post-cloture time allotted to debate or discuss relevant matters or else lose the allotted maximum time. Such a reform would cut down on time wasting, prioritize debate and accountability, and help shift the burden of obstruction on those looking to block or slow the Senate’s progress.


 For more information or to interview leaders from the Fix the Senate Now coalition, contact Michael Earls at media@fixthesenatenow.org

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Blocked Surgeon General Nominee the Latest Reminder of GOP Obstruction

Washington, DC – As the world continues to prepare and respond to the spread of the Ebola virus, the president’s pick to be U.S. Surgeon General is missing in action due to Senate gridlock and obstruction. 

The nomination of Dr. Vivek Murthy to be U.S. Surgeon General has been pending since last November, meaning that our nation has been operating without the designated top spokesperson on public health matters for nearly a year. Senate Republicans have blocked Dr. Murthy’s nomination, in part due to anger over the nominee’s assessment that gun violence was a public health issue.

The absence of a qualified Surgeon General during a time of heightened public health anxiety is indicative of a larger disturbing trend in the Senate – Republicans’ willingness to use Senate obstructionism to impede basic government functioning and crisis response.

For example, prior to August recess, Republicans refused to confirm two dozen ambassadorships, including those to global hotspots such as Turkey (a key country in the offensive against ISIS) and Guatemala (the home of many of the child migrants fleeing to the U.S. border this past summer). In the judicial arena, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) recently blasted Senate Republicans’ reliance on “delay for delay’s sake” regarding qualified nominees.

As part of broader Senate reforms to reduce this needless and consequential obstruction, the Fix the Senate Now coalition supports the “use it or lose it” reform proposal. Those dedicated to Senate gridlock and time wasting should have to either use the post-cloture time allotted to debate or discuss relevant matters or else lose the allotted maximum time. 

This past summer, Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg View wrote, “Republicans aren’t harming Senate majority leader Harry Reid by blocking nominations. They’re harming the functioning of the U.S. government.”

Dr. Murthy’s nomination is just the latest example of this unsettling assessment.


For more information or to interview leaders from the Fix the Senate Now coalition, contact Michael Earls at media@fixthesenatenow.org

 

ICYMI: Senator Leahy Blasts GOP?s ?Systematic Filibuster of Every Judicial Nominee?

Washington, DC – With Congress heading home for the 2014 election season, U.S. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) reminds us of the important work the Senate has left to do on judicial nominations. In a press statement issued at the end of last week, Senator Leahy blasts Senate Republicans’ reliance on “delay for delay’s sake” and calls for the Senate to make progress on judicial vacancies after November’s elections.

As part of broader Senate reforms to reduce obstruction of  qualified nominees – including judicial, ambassador, and executive branch nominations – the Fix the Senate Now coalition supports the “use it or lose it” reform proposal. Those dedicated to Senate gridlock and wasting time should have to either use the post-cloture time allotted to debate or discuss relevant matters or else lose the time. 

Key excerpts of Senator Leahy’s statement include:

“As the Senate prepares to go into recess, Senate Republicans are refusing to allow confirmation votes on the more than 20 judicial nominees who will now be stuck in limbo for months. There is no good reason why the Senate cannot confirm these nominees before the recess other than wholesale obstruction of a co-equal branch of government’s nominees…

…Vacancies remain high not because of a failure of Senate Democrats or President Obama to make judicial confirmations a priority. These vacancies persist because of the endless obstruction of partisan Republicans who take every opportunity they can to shut down the important work of the Senate. Last year, no longer content to block individual judges, Senate Republicans attempted a wholesale filibuster of three nominees to the D.C. Circuit, without even considering their qualifications. Then, instead of confirming the consensus judicial nominees pending on the Executive Calendar prior to the end of the congressional session, Republicans forced the President to renominate each nominee, and for the Senate Judiciary Committee to report them again this year.     

In 2014, Senate Republicans have proceeded to filibuster each and every judicial nominee. The Senate has taken 62 cloture votes on judicial nominations so far this year, amounting to well over 400 hundred wasted hours that the Senate should have been spent considering legislation to help the American people.  Never before has the Senate seen the systematic filibuster of every judicial nominee, or such unfair treatment of qualified, consensus nominees.

The Senate should act quickly to confirm the judicial nominees pending on the Senate floor.  Because Republican obstruction will prevent us from finishing our work before the elections, we must return to session as soon as possible after the elections in November to complete our important work. The American people deserve courts capable of providing access to swift justice, not empty courtrooms and delays.”


For more information or to interview leaders from the Fix the Senate Now coalition, contact Michael Earls at media@fixthesenatenow.org

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Senate GOP: Corporate Money Should Be Unfettered, Up-or-Down Votes Should Be Restricted

Washington, DC – Despite support from a majority of 54 Senators, the U.S. Senate failed to invoke cloture on the S.J. Res 19 “Democracy for All” amendment, blocking it from advancing to a final vote. In response, the Fix the Senate Now coalition issued the following statement:

“By voting unanimously to block an up-or-down vote on an issue they couch in ‘free speech’ terminology, Senate Republicans Thursday showed their true obstructionist colors and more than a bit of hypocrisy.

To Senate Republicans, corporate money should be unfettered, while accountable, up-or-down votes and direct democracy should be restricted.

As Miles Rapoport, President of Common Cause noted, Republicans’ votes ‘expose them as the real opponents of free speech, maintaining a system that lets a few wealthy Americans drown out the voices of millions of their fellow citizens.’

Thursday’s Senate obstruction is just the latest reminder why our Senate needs reform that prioritizes accountable, transparent debate and up-or-down votes on the critical issues facing our country. Senate rules should not be used to thwart the American public from knowing where their Senators stand on a constitutional amendment.”” 


For more information or to interview leaders from the Fix the Senate Now coalition, contact Michael Earls at media@fixthesenatenow.org

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Will Senate Republicans Keep Blocking Ambassador Nominees?

Washington, DC – The U.S. Senate will be in session for just several more weeks before this November’s midterm elections. While few observers expect major breakthroughs on legislation in the interim, the Senate has the opportunity and responsibility to move past obstruction and to address a spate of important vacancies. 

Before leaving for their August recess, Senate Republicans blocked two dozen ambassador nominees as part of their ongoing temper tantrum over last November’s Senate rules reform. As Steve Benen writes at MSNBC.com, now the relevant question “is whether GOP senators are prepared to be more responsible now that their five-week break is over.” As Benen notes, the vacant ambassadorships include the nominee to Turkey, a critical nation when dealing with ISIS:

“And it’s not just Turkey. The United States wants to help respond to the Ebola crisis in Western Africa, but Republicans won’t confirm an ambassador to Sierra Leone. U.S. officials want to address the humanitarian crisis in Central America, but Republicans won’t confirm an ambassador to Guatemala…

… The GOP minority is actively and deliberately undermining ongoing diplomatic efforts as part of a months-long tantrum. And they’re confident that Americans won’t hear anything about this before the midterm elections, when they expect voters to reward their antics, quite possibly with majority status.”

Gridlock’s toll on nominees goes well-beyond just ambassadors. In an article this week titled “Obama’s Brain Drain,” Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn writes:

“analysis of the 15 Cabinet agencies plus several other departments with high-priority policy agendas found a recurring theme for the outgoing Obama administration: plentiful job openings and several slots where long-term vacancies could have real-world consequences for policies from national security to the economy and the environment … More than 220 nominees are still awaiting Senate confirmation to fill vacancies across the administration, and a senior Democratic aide said Majority Leader Harry Reid is planning to force floor votes on a ‘good number’ of them before the November election.”

As part of broader Senate reforms to reduce this needless and consequential obstruction, the Fix the Senate Now coalition supports the “use it or lose it” reform proposal. Those dedicated to Senate gridlock and time wasting should have to either use the post-cloture time allotted to debate or discuss relevant matters or else lose the allotted maximum time. 


For more information or to interview leaders from the Fix the Senate Now coalition, contact Michael Earls at media@fixthesenatenow.org

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ICYMI: Why Senate Rules Reform Mattered and Why There is More Work to Do

Washington, DC – Last Friday, a Politico story by Burgess Everett offered a reminder why last November’s rules reform were an essential step forward for the chamber:

“The Senate barely does anything these days — except approve judges that could shape the law for a generation.

Since Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) changed Senate rules in November to ease the approval of most of President Barack Obama’s nominees, Democrats have churned through confirmations of dozens of new judges — giving them lifetime appointments that will extend the administration’s influence for years to come. Over a roughly equivalent period during the 113th Congress, the Senate confirmed 36 district and circuit court judges before the rules change and 68 after, according to Senate statistics.”

However, Everett’s story also provides a reminder why more work needs to be done to improve the health and functioning of the U.S. Senate – through reforms such as the “use it or lose it” reform proposal described in greater detail below. Everett writes:

“Republicans have fought Democrats at every step, using their remaining procedural tools to stymie quick approval of judges and many executive branch nominees whose sway over regulations are magnified by today’s congressional stalemate…

…In pre-nuclear days, the Senate might have unanimously approved a group of new ambassadors to global conflict zones or lower level judges before skipping town — but those days are over. Senate Republicans have shown no indication they will relent on their demand for procedural votes on most nominees that are guaranteed to be OK‘d by Democrats only hours later, a practice that slows the Senate to a crawl.”

Senate Republicans justify their current strategy of Senate time-wasting by saying it’s a direct reaction to last November’s Senate reforms – but they refuse to acknowledge their role in triggering said Senate reforms in the first place by engaging in a mass-blockade of qualified nominees and trying to shut down such agencies as the NLRB and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

There is growing acknowledgment that Republicans’ continuing obstruction and stalling remains a problem that exacts a toll on basic government functioning – such as Senate Republicans’ refusal to confirm two dozen ambassadors prior to August recess.

As a result, the Fix the Senate Now coalition supports additional Senate reforms such as the “use it or lose it” reform proposal described in Everett’s article.  As Marge Baker, vice president of People for the American Way, told Everett, “If these rules are designed to have debate, then you have debate. If you don’t have anything to debate, it shouldn’t be just delay.”

Those dedicated to Senate gridlock and time wasting should have to either use the post-cloture time allotted to debate or discuss relevant matters or else lose the allotted maximum time. Such a reform would cut down on time wasting, prioritize debate and accountability, and help shift the burden of obstruction to those looking to block or slow the Senate’s progress. 


For more information or to interview leaders from the Fix the Senate Now coalition, contact Michael Earls at media@fixthesenatenow.org

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ICYMI: Two Dozen Ambassador Nominees Blocked By GOP Temper Tantrum in U.S. Senate

Washington, DC – Before the Senate departed for its August recess, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) attempted to confirm two dozen foreign service officers to fill vacant ambassadorships in countries throughout the world. However, Senate Republicans blocked all two dozen of these potential confirmations.

The Republicans’ obstruction centered not on a lack of qualifications of the nominees – or anything about the nominees at all. Instead, Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY) justified Republicans’ obstruction by noting, “We used to pass ambassadors and all kinds of people en bloc like that, but we have this nuclear option now that the majority chose so it takes a little longer to do that whole process, and on that basis, I object.”

As Steve Benen wrote on MSNBC, “It’s important to understand exactly what Enzi is saying here. Republicans abused filibuster rules to such an unprecedented extent that Democrats restored majority-rule on nomination votes. This hurt Republicans’ feelings, so they’re blocking votes on ambassadors, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the consequences, and regardless of America’s foreign-policy interests.”

Potential ambassadors blocked by the Senate Republicans’ temper tantrum include Todd D. Robinson as Ambassador to Guatemala. As Niels Lesniewski wrote in Roll Call, that nation is “one of the key countries in the current crisis involving unaccompanied minors at the Southwest border.”

Congressional observer Norm Ornstein tweeted  that “blocking ambassadors when the world is in turmoil and America’s national interest is at stake is simply shameful.” Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg View wrote, “Republicans aren’t harming Senate majority leader Harry Reid by blocking nominations. They’re harming the functioning of the U.S. government.”

Senator Menendez deserves credit for attempting to fill these important vacancies and the American people deserve answers from Republicans about why the GOP’s temper tantrum over rules reform should take precedent over American foreign policy interests.

For more on the causes and consequences of the nominee backlog and Senate gridlock – and ideas about what to do about it – see this recent Fix the Senate Now memo 

List of Blocked Ambassador Nominees by Home State

These are the two dozen ambassador nominees still waiting in confirmation limbo, organized by home state:

  • Arizona: Thomas Daughton – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Namibia
  • California: Donald Lu - to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Albania; Amy Hyatt - to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Palau; and Leslie Bassett - to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Paraguay
  • Louisiana: Linda Thomas-Greenfield, an Assistant Secretary of State (African Affairs), to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the African Development Foundation
  • Maryland: Ted Osius – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Vietnam
  • Massachusetts: John Hoover - to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Sierra Leone
  • Michigan: Karen Stanton - to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
  • Minnesota: Erica J. Barks Ruggles – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Rwanda
  • New Jersey: Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the People's Republic of Bangladesh; and Todd D. Robinson – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Guatemala
  • New York: John R. Bass – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Turkey
  • North Carolina: Gentry O. Smith to be Director of the Office of Foreign Missions and have the rank of Ambassador during his tenure
  • North Dakota: James D. Pettit – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Moldova
  • Oregon: Brent Robert Hartley – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Slovenia
  • Pennsylvania: George Albert Krol – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Kazakhstan
  • Texas: Luis Moreno - to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Jamaica
  • Virginia: Adam M. Scheinman - to be Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation, with the rank of Ambassador; Eric Schultz - to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Zambia; Matthew Harrington - to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Lesotho; Arnold A. Chacon to be Director General of the Foreign Service; Maureen Cormack - to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Bosnia and Herzegovina; and Michele Jeanne Sison – to be the Deputy Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations
  • Washington: Allan P. Mustard – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Turkmenistan

    For more information or to interview leaders from the Fix the Senate Now coalition, contact Michael Earls at media@fixthesenatenow.org

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    ICYMI: Vacant Ambassadorships Latest Reminder of Senate Gridlock?s Toll on Government Functioning

    Washington, DC – Al Kamen and Colby Itkowitz write in a Washington Post piece titled, “Senate Clock is Ticking as Nominees Wait on Their Fate,” of the disturbing backlog of ambassadors and other executive branch nominees waiting on the U.S. Senate to provide confirmation votes: “We’re now into serious nail-biting time for about 150 nominees to see whether they’ll be confirmed by the Senate before the lawmakers slither out of town for a five-week recess.” Itkowitz writes in a follow-up piece that the Senate is now moving toward the confirmation of John Tefft as U.S. Ambassador to Russia, a post “that’s been vacant since February,” showing that “if it really, really wants to, Congress can get its work done.”

    The primary reason the Senate has not done its work on confirming ambassadors and other executive branch nominees is due to Senate Republicans’ continued strategy of obstruction, using a variety of stalling tactics. For more on the causes and consequences of this nominee backlog and Senate gridlock, see this recent Fix the Senate Now memo and read the below excerpts from leading commentators: 

    • Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg View notes in a piece titled, “Republican Tantrum Damages Government,” that, “Republican foot-dragging has created a backlog of more than 100 nominees, almost none of whom are controversial, and some of whom have been waiting since January for Senate floor action…I understand that Republicans are upset about the Democrats' filibuster reform. It has robbed them of leverage over nominations -- even if it's entirely their own fault for having abused that leverage. But Republicans aren’t harming Senate majority leader Harry Reid by blocking nominations. They’re harming the functioning of the U.S. government.”
    • MSNBC’s Steve Benen writes in a post titled “Wanted: U.S. Ambassadors,” that, “there are 193 nations in the world. Of that total, the United States maintains embassies in 169 countries around the globe…in a fourth of those embassies, the ambassador’s office is empty, because the Senate hasn’t confirmed anyone. There are practical consequences of this. Unaccompanied children from Guatemala, for example, are reaching the U.S./Mexico border, and officials are working on possible solutions. But there’s a limit on the amount of diplomatic work that can be done in the Central American country, since the U.S. has no ambassador to Guatemala…It’s only international diplomacy during a time of multiple foreign crises, right?”

    The Fix the Senate Now coalition supports potential “use it or lose it” reform in the Senate to address the time-wasting and obstruction that has fueled this nominee backlog.  Those dedicated to Senate gridlock and time wasting should have to either use the post-cloture time allotted to debate or discuss relevant matters or else lose the allotted maximum time. Such a reform would cut down on time wasting, prioritize debate and accountability, and help shift the burden of obstruction to those looking to block or slow the Senate’s progress. 


     For more information or to interview leaders from the Fix the Senate Now coalition, contact Michael Earls at media@fixthesenatenow.org

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    FTSN Memo: Senate Gridlock & Senate Reform

    July 24, 2014

    To:      Interested Parties

    From: Fix the Senate Now

    Re:      Senate Gridlock & Senate Reform

    Last November, the U.S. Senate adopted sensible reforms that established majority votes to end filibusters to most executive and judicial appointees. These reforms, made in response to Senate Republicans’ mass-blockade of qualified candidates, led to a spate of immediate votes and confirmations for long-blocked nominees. Throughout 2014, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and his caucus have built on last November’s reforms and prioritized moving judicial nominations forward, filling an array of vacancies, including a sizeable number who would have been blocked before November.

    Despite these positive steps steering the Senate back in the direction of functional democracy, close observers of the chamber recognize that more work needs to be done. There is growing acknowledgment that:

    • Republicans’ continuing obstruction, using a variety of stalling tactics, remains a major problem;
    • This waste of time, as well as the residual effects of Republicans’ larger obstructionism since the start of the Obama presidency, is taking a toll on basic government functioning; and
    • We need to explore additional Senate reforms – especially the “use it or lose it” reform proposal backed by the Fix the Senate Now coalition.

    Below, we provide a brief overview of Republicans’ latest obstructionist approach, its consequences, and what to do about it.

    Republican Stalling – “A Pure Tactic of Obstruction”

    Stephen Spaulding of Common Cause  notes that, “While a simple majority can now end filibusters to most nominees, the current minority is exploiting other Senate rules and customs to gum up the works and waste time that ought to be spent on important issues.” Senate scholar Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, explains, Republicans are engaging in “a pure tactic of obstruction, trying to use up as much of the Senate's most precious commodity—time—as possible to screw up the majority's agenda.”

    Nan Aron, President of the Alliance for Justice, outlines in a Roll Call op-ed how the time wasting works, “Under current rules, even after the Senate votes to end debate senators can keep on ‘debating’ for another two hours for every district court nominee, eight hours for most executive branch nominees and 30 hours for nominees for circuit courts and the president’s Cabinet. And ‘debating’ isn’t really the right word — senators don’t have to use the time to talk about the nominees, or anything at all. These delays stall confirmation of nominees — many of whom go on to be confirmed unanimously —and prevent the Senate from doing the important business of solving our nation’s problems.”

    The depth of Republicans’ commitment to waste the maximum amount of Senate time shows in the following statistic from Common Cause: since last November’s Senate reforms, there have been 31 nominations subjected to cloture votes or reconsidered votes – and then unanimously confirmed (as of July 21).

    The Consequences of Time Wasting and Obstruction

    Common Cause also provides other damning statistics about the toll from ongoing Republican obstruction in their report, “The ‘New Nullification’ At Work”:  As of July 21, their research shows:

    • 237 nominees awaited Senate confirmation, including 146 pending on the Senate floor (120 of whom are executive branch or independent agency nominees);
      • By comparison, at this point in the George W. Bush administration, only 29 executive branch and agency nominees were pending and only 25 at this point in the Clinton administration
    • At a time of global turmoil, the nominees for ambassadorships to 51 countries remain pending on the Senate floor;
    • Executive branch and independent agency nominees pending on the Senate floor have been waiting for a confirmation vote for an average of 9 months, including 24 who have been waiting for more than one year.

    Additionally, new analysis from Alicia Bannon of the Brennan Center for Justice, titled “The Impact of Judicial Vacancies on Federal Trial Courts,” finds that vacancies “impact the ability of many courts to effectively and timely administer justice. In eight of the 10 profiled districts, judges and court administrators reported that judicial vacancies had a substantial impact on their courts.” The report describes the effects on case delays, shows that less time can be spent on individual cases, and that administrative burdens and a risk of judicial burn-out are higher as a result.

    And as Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Larry Cohen noted at the National Press Club this week, continued Senate dysfunction impedes action on a range of important topics. Said Cohen, “The broken Senate rules, money in politics and the destruction of individual voting rights actually prevent us from ever getting to the workers' rights problem, the climate change problem, the economic inequality problem and other issues. Senate rules, in many ways the dullest of subjects, is the front line."

    What To Do – the Senate Should Embrace “Use it or Lose it” Reform

    Recently, Senate Majority Leader Reid again raised the possibility of Senate rules reform, to address post-cloture stalling.  Senator Reid said, “We changed some of the rules. We didn't change that [post-cloture time wasting]…If they're going to continue this, maybe we'll have to take another look at that. Just, it's outrageous what they've done."

    As Nan Aron explained, “the next step in rules reform should be to require that senators at least use their debate time to actually debate the merits of the nomination before them: In other words — use it or lose it.” And as a Senate aide told Roll Call, “It’s called debate time for a reason…It’s supposed to be used for debate, not to run out the time arbitrarily. Republicans are making a good case for use it or lose it.”

    The Fix the Senate Now coalition strongly supports potential “use it or lose it” reform in the Senate and supports Senate Majority Leader Reid following through on additional reform.

    Those dedicated to Senate gridlock and stalling should have to either use the post-cloture time allotted to debate to discuss relevant matters or else lose the allotted maximum time. Such a reform would cut down on time wasting, prioritize debate and accountability, and help shift the burden of obstruction to those looking to block or slow the Senate’s progress. 


    For more information or to interview leaders from the Fix the Senate Now coalition, contact Michael Earls at media@fixthesenatenow.org

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    Harry Reid is Right: The U.S. Senate Should Adopt ?Use it or Lose it? Reforms

    Washington, DC – Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) blasted Senate Republicans’ continued “obstruction for obstruction’s sake,” noting that Senate Republicans "put up roadblock after roadblock" and seek to waste the maximum amount of Senate time in the confirmation of even non-controversial nominees. For example, in 2014 alone, Senate Republicans have blocked votes on 23 nominations that they “later voted unanimously to confirm, wasting literally days of post-cloture time in the process,” as a memo from the DPCC recently noted.

    As a result, Senator Reid is again raising the possibility of Senate rules reform, in particular reforms to address post-cloture time wastingSaid Senator Reid yesterday, “We changed some of the rules. We didn't change that [post-cloture time wasting]…If they're going to continue this, maybe we'll have to take another look at that. Just, it's outrageous what they've done."

    To fully realize the potential of last November’s Senate reforms and to move toward a functional Senate more in line with the chamber’s historical norms and traditions, the Fix the Senate Now coalition strongly supports potential “use it or lose it” reform in the Senate. Those dedicated to Senate gridlock and time wasting should have to either use the post-cloture time allotted to debate to discuss relevant matters or else lose the allotted maximum time. Such a reform would cut down on time wasting, prioritize debate and accountability, and help shift the burden of obstruction on those looking to block or slow the Senate’s progress.  

    While the U.S. Senate has made significant advances toward reducing the judicial backlog in recent months, 145 nominees remain pending on the Senate calendar.  As a Senate aide explained to Roll Call, “It’s called debate time for a reason…It’s supposed to be used for debate, not to run out the time arbitrarily. Republicans are making a good case for use it or lose it.”


    For more information or to interview leaders from the Fix the Senate Now coalition, contact Michael Earls at media@fixthesenatenow.org

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