Filibuster talks flag, Senate braces for showdown - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Filibuster talks flag, Senate braces for showdown

Posted:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senators braced for a possible showdown over filibusters Tuesday, as Democratic leaders rejected a Republican offer to confirm seven contested White House nominees without promising a future peace accord on the matter.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell privately offered to clear the way for President Barack Obama's choices to head agencies dealing with labor and consumer finance, officials in both parties said. But Democratic leaders rejected the deal because McConnell would not promise to drop the use of filibusters to block future executive nominees.

The Senate was scheduled to hold several test votes on the matter around midday. Meanwhile, negotiations continued between top Democrats and a rump group of Republicans, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

A rare, three-hour private meeting of nearly all 100 senators Monday night failed to resolve the impasse.

If neither side retreats, there could be big ramifications for politics and policymaking for years to come.

Standing alone, the rules change that Democratic leader Harry Reid proposes is limited. It would end the ability of 41 senators, in the 100-person chamber, to block action on White House nominations other than judges. The out-of-power party still could use filibuster threats to block legislation and judicial nominees, who seek lifetime appointments.

But critics say Reid's plan would be likely to prompt Republicans to retaliate by doing even more to reduce the minority party's rights if the GOP regains control of the Senate. That could happen as early 18 months from now, after the 2014 elections.

"It's a decision that, if they actually go through with it, they will live to regret," McConnell has said.

Unlike the 435-member House, the Senate has a long and bumpy tradition of granting rights to minority-party members. The most powerful tool is the filibuster, which can kill a measure by using endless debate to prevent a yes-or-no vote.

The mere promise of a filibuster can block Senate action on almost anything unless 60 of the 100 senators vote to overcome it. Filibuster-proof majorities are rare, and Republicans now hold 46 Senate seats.

Both parties have accelerated their use of the filibuster threat in recent times. Since Obama took office in January 2009, Republicans have threatened filibusters repeatedly, infuriating Democrats.

Reid said Lyndon B. Johnson faced one filibuster during his six years as Senate majority leader. In the same length of time as majority leader, Reid said he has faced 413 threatened filibusters. The tactic, he said, blocks action on routine matters that Congress once handled fairly easily.

"The power of an extreme minority now threatens our integrity of this institution," Reid, of Nevada, said in a speech Monday. "My efforts are directed to save the Senate from becoming obsolete."

He called his proposal a "minor change, no big deal." But Republicans, led by McConnell, object bitterly.

Democrats acknowledged that Republicans will turn any such rules change to their advantage if they regain the Senate majority, which the two parties have often swapped in recent decades.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters the Senate "needs to confirm this president's nominees in a timely and efficient manner." That will be true, he said, "for the next president, and the next president after that. This has become ridiculous."

Senate Republicans particularly object to two union-backed members of the National Labor Relations Board, Richard Griffin and Sharon Block. Obama appointed them when he said the Senate was in recess.

An appeals court said Obama exceeded his authority. The board's actions since the two members took their seats are in legal limbo. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has vowed to cause a new ruckus if the two are replaced.

Republicans also have opposed Obama's pick to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created in a Wall Street oversight revision that Republicans opposed. Obama nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray more than two years ago.

Many Republican senators say they will not confirm anyone to the consumer post unless the bureau's leadership structure is changed.

In a Monday afternoon meeting with Reid, McConnell agreed to clear the way to resolve all seven nominations in question, presumably with new nominees to replace Block and Griffin, multiple sources said. But Reid rejected the idea because McConnell would not agree to refrain from future filibusters of executive nominees.

Senators said it was possible that at least six Republicans, including McCain, will abandon McConnell and vote to end filibusters on Cordray and others. That would not resolve questions of the future use of filibusters to block presidential executive nominees.

Asked Monday if Obama worries that a filibuster rule change would make the Senate even more dysfunctional, Carney said, "Well, it boggles the mind how they would achieve that."

This notion that things can't get much worse in the often stalemated Senate seems to have convinced numerous senators and interest groups in recent months that there is little risk in changing traditions to end at least some of the logjams..

Republicans seem to have dropped efforts to block Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Reid, however, accused them of unwarranted delaying tactics, which included 1,100 written questions to the nominee.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Man accused of stabbing wife 30 times in front of children

    Man accused of stabbing wife 30 times in front of children

    Authorities say a Brooklyn Park woman is in a medically induced coma after she was repeatedly stabbed by her husband in front of their children. The Star Tribune reports that 34-year-old Jethro Gboeah was charged Friday with felony first-degree assault and violating a no contact order in connection with the attack. Police say the children told police they watched their father enter the apartment building, strangle their mother, and say he would kill her before repeatedly stabbing her...More >>
    Authorities say a Brooklyn Park woman is in a medically induced coma after she was repeatedly stabbed by her husband in front of their children. The Star Tribune reports that 34-year-old Jethro Gboeah was charged Friday with felony first-degree assault and violating a no contact order in connection with the attack. Police say the children told police they watched their father enter the apartment building, strangle their mother, and say he would kill her before repeatedly stabbing her...More >>
  • Rushford-Peterson district celebrates grand opening of new school

    Rushford-Peterson district celebrates grand opening of new school

    Ten years after Rushford's old school was damaged in the 2007 flood, the community celebrated the grand opening of a new one. On Saturday morning, the public got to tour Rushford-Peterson Schools' new 170,000 square-foot facility, which will be home to early education through 12th-grade students.

    More >>

    Ten years after Rushford's old school was damaged in the 2007 flood, the community celebrated the grand opening of a new one. On Saturday morning, the public got to tour Rushford-Peterson Schools' new 170,000 square-foot facility, which will be home to early education through 12th-grade students.

    More >>
  • UPDATE: Names released in deadly accident on Highway 52

    UPDATE: Names released in deadly accident on Highway 52

    The one-vehicle accident happened just before 5 Friday morning just North of Zumbrota, near 165th Avenue in the southbound lanes.

    More >>

    The one-vehicle accident happened just before 5 Friday morning just North of Zumbrota, near 165th Avenue in the southbound lanes.

    More >>
  • Oronoco Gold Rush Days drawing people from around the country

    Oronoco Gold Rush Days drawing people from around the country

    Hundreds of vendors and visitors were back in Oronoco Saturday for its 45th annual Gold Rush Days. The free antique show features 300 vendors selling furniture, decor, toys and more. And if you missed it Saturday, the show will resume Sunday morning.

    More >>

    Hundreds of vendors and visitors were back in Oronoco Saturday for its 45th annual Gold Rush Days. The free antique show features 300 vendors selling furniture, decor, toys and more. And if you missed it Saturday, the show will resume Sunday morning.

    More >>
  • Sportacular Tailgate Challenge raises money for mentoring program

    Sportacular Tailgate Challenge raises money for mentoring program

    Hundreds of kids played sports and games at Mayo Field in Rochester Saturday evening, all while meeting some star athletes too. The third annual Sportacular Tailgate Challenge ran from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. It was a chance for kids to test their skills in basketball, football, hockey, golf and more.

    More >>

    Hundreds of kids played sports and games at Mayo Field in Rochester Saturday evening, all while meeting some star athletes too. The third annual Sportacular Tailgate Challenge ran from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. It was a chance for kids to test their skills in basketball, football, hockey, golf and more.

    More >>
  • Homes in St. Paul area evacuated because of pipe bomb scare

    Homes in St. Paul area evacuated because of pipe bomb scare

    Several homes in a St. Paul neighborhood were evacuated after police said they found a potential explosive device in a vehicle. The incident happened early Saturday morning in the Payne-Phalen area on the city's east side. Police received a call just before 5 a.m. that a woman had been threatened with a handgun. The suspects escaped in a vehicle by the time officers arrived. Police spokesman Steve Linders says police located the vehicle and arrested two men who were inside. Police f...More >>
    Several homes in a St. Paul neighborhood were evacuated after police said they found a potential explosive device in a vehicle. The incident happened early Saturday morning in the Payne-Phalen area on the city's east side. Police received a call just before 5 a.m. that a woman had been threatened with a handgun. The suspects escaped in a vehicle by the time officers arrived. Police spokesman Steve Linders says police located the vehicle and arrested two men who were inside. Police f...More >>
  • Woman's body found inside camper at Whippoorwill Kampground

    Woman's body found inside camper at Whippoorwill Kampground

    The body of a woman was found in a camper at Whippoorwill Kampground just before 5 p.m. Saturday. 

    More >>

    The body of a woman was found in a camper at Whippoorwill Kampground just before 5 p.m. Saturday. 

    More >>
  • Flood victim's family remembers him 10 years later

    Flood victim's family remembers him 10 years later

    Jerry Lorenz, 37, was one of seven flash flood victims in August 2007.Jerry Lorenz, 37, was one of seven flash flood victims in August 2007.
    Seven people died the weekend of August 18th, 2007 in what is considered one of the worst flash floods in Minnesota history.  Jerry Lorenz, John and Shirley Micheel, Joyce and Victor Gensmer, David Ask, and David Blackburn were the seven victims. One decade later, the victim's families still remember the night they received the devastating news.   "I got a phone call from a family member saying to come quick, we can't find Jerry but we found his car. The tears s...More >>
    Seven people died the weekend of August 18th, 2007 in what is considered one of the worst flash floods in Minnesota history.  Jerry Lorenz, John and Shirley Micheel, Joyce and Victor Gensmer, David Ask, and David Blackburn were the seven victims. One decade later, the victim's families still remember the night they received the devastating news.   "I got a phone call from a family member saying to come quick, we can't find Jerry but we found his car. The tears s...More >>
Powered by Frankly