U.S. Senate Votes To Change “Filibuster” Rules Allowing NAACP-Supported Nominees

U.S. Senate Votes To Change “Filibuster” Rules Allowing NAACP-Supported Nominees To Be Voted On By The Full U.S. Senate

NEW CHANGES WILL REDUCE OBSTRUCTIONS AND ALLOW VOTES ON MEL WATT TO SERVE AS DIRECTOR OF FEDERAL HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY; AND JUDGE ROBERT WILKINS, NINA PILLARD AND PATRICIA MILLETT TO DC COURT OF APPEALS

On Thursday, November 21, 2013, the United States Senate voted to change the rules under which it operates and require only a simple majority – 51 votes out of 100, as opposed to the 60 out of 100 which had been required – to approve ending debate and moving forward with the confirmation of a presidential nominee to serve either in the executive branch or the judiciary.  This rule change means that while the Senate is still responsible for providing its “advise and consent” on nominees to the executive and judicial branches, and while nominees still require the support of a majority of the Senators to be confirmed, no longer will 60 votes be necessary to bring the nominations up for an up-or down, yes-or-no, vote on confirmation.  This change will apply to all nominees of future presidents, regardless of their party affiliation.  The exception to the rule is nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court, who will still need to get over the 60-vote hurdle before their nomination can be considered by the full Senate; bills and legislation will also continue to be subject to the 60-vote requirement.

This rule change was necessitated by the continued obstructionist tactics of extremist Senators and their allies who most recently blocked Congressman Mel Watt (NC) from being considered for an up-or-down vote on his nomination to serve as Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency as well as the use of the 60-vote rule to prevent consideration of the nominations of three highly qualified individuals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (Patricia Millett, Cornelia “Nina” Pillard, and Judge Robert Wilkins).  In the history of the United States, half of all nominations which had been blocked using the 60-vote requirement have been under President Obama; in the history of the U.S., 23 district court nominees have been denied up-or-down votes – with 20 being Obama nominees.  Furthermore, by using the 60-vote tactic to block the NAACP-strongly supported nomination of Congressman Watt (who has served in the Congress for 20 years, and was the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus in 2005 and 2006), Congressman Watt became the first sitting Member of Congress since before the Civil War to have his or her nomination blocked for consideration.

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