Timeline of Republican Obstruction

2010: Citing record use of filibusters in the Senate, Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M., seek rules change.

January 2011: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reach "handshake agreement" deal on scaled-down rules reform.

In an exchange entered into the record:

  • Sen. Reid: "In particular, I hope we can reach an agreement to move nominees in regular order."
  • Sen. McConnell: "I agree that the Senate spends too much time dealing with a growing number of nominees."

On Jan. 24, Sen. McConnell said, “Senate Republicans will continue to work with the majority to process nominations, consistent with the norms and traditions of the Senate."

May 2011: 9th Circuit nominee Goodwin Liu blocked on ideological grounds. Shortly thereafter, Nobel Prize winning economist Peter Diamond withdraws his name for Fed seat because of GOP obstruction

June 2011: Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announce bipartisan deal to streamline Senate confirmation process. The proposal, which exempted a range of positions from Senate confirmation, passes 79-20.

October 2011: Republicans obstruct China currency bill by attaching an amendment from Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., overturning an EPA regulation on air pollution. Senate Democrats invoke "nuclear option" regarding amendments offered after Senate invokes cloture.

  • Under the new rule passed by Senate Democrats, only amendments that both parties agree to can be considered for a vote after a filibuster is defeated.

December 2011: GOP blocks Caitlin Halligan, nominated for the D.C.Circuit and Richard Cordray, nominated to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

March 2012: After GOP slow-walks nominees, Sen. Reid files cloture on 17 judicial nominations.

  • “Unfortunately for tens of millions of Americans, that right to equal justice under law is at risk, and I’m sorry to say it’s at risk because of Republican ideology,” Sen. Reid said. “Americans can no longer rely on fair and speedy trials.”

May 2012: Sen. Reid apologizes to Sen. Merkley and Sen. Udall, saying they were right.

  • Calling the two senators behind the push – Sen. Udall and Sen. Merkley - "prophetic," Sen. Reid said: "These two young, fine senators said it was time to change the rules of the Senate, and we didn't. They were right. The rest of us were wrong -- or most of us, anyway. What a shame."

January 2013: Senate passes rules change that limits subcabinet nominees to 8 hours of post-cloture debate, rather than 30.

February 2013:  Chuck Hagel becomes first-ever Defense Secretary to be filibustered.

March 2013: Republicans block Caitlin Halligan for DC Circuit seat for the 2nd time, forcing her to withdraw her name from consideration.

July 2013: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., strikes deal with Sen. Reid to break logjam on nominees. Richard Cordray is finally confirmed after more than 700 days of waiting. Also confirmed is Fred Hochberg to be president of the Export-Import Bank, Thomas Perez to be secretary of Labor, Gina McCarthy to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and several National Labor Relations Board nominees.

October/November 2013: GOP filibusters Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., and 3 D.C. Circuit Court nominees: Patricia Millett, Nina Pillard and Robert Wilkins. Leading the crusade against the nominees, is Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who says there are not enough cases for the Circuit Court to be fully staffed.