Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid issued the following statement on the Senate Floor today.
Mr. President, I want to try again to persuade my Republican colleagues that the nuclear option to break the Senate rules regarding judicial nominations is unnecessary and unwise.
Earlier this week, I came to the Senate floor and offered to enter into a unanimous consent agreement that would allow an up-down vote for Thomas Griffith, a controversial nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
We have confirmed 208 of President Bush’s nominees to the federal court. But, 95% isn’t good enough, and Republican leaders have brought us to the brink of a nuclear show down that is bad for the Senate and bad for the country.
As I said on the floor earlier this week, Democrats understand the meaning of checks and balances, and our constitutional role in ensuring a fair and independent judiciary. I said “we know the difference between opposing nominees and blocking nominees. We will oppose bad nominees, but we will only block unacceptable nominees.”
Unfortunately, my effort to demonstrate good faith was immediately rejected. The Majority Leader indicated that the Senate would not be allowed to vote on Mr. Griffith unless Senate Democrats agree to an up-down vote on all judicial nominees. What that means is that the Majority Leader won’t compromise unless Democrats agree to give up the last check in Washington against abuse of power – the right to filibuster. This isn’t about 7 radical judges, it’s about paving the way to put a right wing conservative on the Supreme Court.
Our position is clear: let’s find common ground and confirm some judges. Their position appears to be: let’s threaten to break the rules until we get everything we want. If we can’t find compromise, as I said on Tuesday, we are ready to vote. We will fight to protect the nation’s constitutional system of checks and balances. That’s what the people sent us here to do, and we will live up to our responsibility to the American people.
Today I want to try again to do what my Republican judges say they want to do: confirm federal judges. Today I am prepared to enter into a unanimous consent agreement with respect to two and possibly three nominees to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals: