Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) decided his political stunt on judicial nominees wasn’t working. He abandoned the plan Wednesday, agreeing to a deal with Republicans to schedule votes for 12 district-court nominees and two circuit-court nominees before May 7.
The deal ensures President Obama’s nominees will received an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. That’s exactly what conservatives like Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) had wanted. Lee, still outraged by Obama’s unconstitutional “recess” appointments in January, has vowed to vote against each nominee until Obama rescinds the appointments.
Reid, hoping to paint Republicans as obstructionists on judges, held up passage of the House-approved JOBS Act. Reid charged that the minority had “refused to allow us to even vote” on nominees and “prevented the Senate from doing its constitutional duty.” But those bombastic claims were easily dismissed by a quick review of history.
In the two months following Obama’s illegal appointments, the Senate has confirmed seven judicial nominees. Overall, Obama has secured approval for 129 district-court judges in three years. That’s more than President George W. Bush’s 120 confirmations over his final four years in office. And of the 83 judicial vacancies that currently exist, nearly three-fourths are either waiting for action from the White House or the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee.
“I am pleased that Senator Reid has reversed his decision to force a series of unnecessary and contentious cloture votes on judicial nominations,” Lee said in a statement. “The record demonstrates that claims of Republican ‘obstruction’ were simply false. Indeed, the whole episode was merely a political maneuver designed to distract the American people from the failed Democratic legislative agenda.”
Lee also called on Reid to retract his statement that Obama should fill vacancies with the more unconstitutional “recess” appointments.
>> Watch our exclusive interview with Sen. Mike Lee about Obama’s illegal appointments: