Senate Democrats

The Facts on the Senate Rules Debate

FILIBUSTERS: LYNDON JOHNSON 1, HARRY REID 413

  • Senators Lyndon Baines Johnson and Harry Reid have each served as Majority Leader for six years. During their tenures, then-Senator Johnson faced one filibuster while Senator Reid has faced 413. [Official Senate Records]
  • REPUBLICANS HAVE FILIBUSTERED MORE OF PRESIDENT OBAMA’S NOMINEES THAN EVERY OTHER PRESIDENT COMBINED

  • At the current rate, President Obama will face more filibusters on Executive Branch nominees than every other American president combined. [People for the American Way, 7/10/13]
  • Before President Obama took office, there had been a total of 20 filibusters on executive nominations in the entire history of the United States, from George Washington to George W. Bush. [CRS]

    Since President Obama took office, there have been 16 filibusters. At this rate, there will be nearly 30 by the end of his second term. [Projection by People for the American Way, 7/10/13]

  • Executive nominees who are ready to be confirmed by the Senate have been pending an average of 260 days – more than 8 months – since they were first nominated. [Compiled by Office of Senator Reid based on publicly available dates of nominations]
  • CHANGE WOULD RESTORE SENATE TRADITION OF SIMPLE UP-OR-DOWN VOTE FOR QUALIFIED NOMINEES

  • For centuries, a President’s nominees received simple up-or-down votes in the Senate, except in extraordinary circumstances. [CRS]
  • The change contemplated by Senate Democrats would simply restore the Senate’s long tradition of delivering simple up-or-down votes for Executive nominees. Senators would still be free to debate and vote against nominations they oppose.
  • PRECEDENT FOR CHANGE: SENATE HAS VOTED TO CHANGE ITS RULES BY MAJORITY VOTE 18 TIMES SINCE 1977

  • The Senate has changed its procedures by a simple majority vote 18 times since 1977, an average of once every other year. [Compiled by Office of Senator Merkley based on Congressional Record, 7/11/13]
  • REPUBLICANS HAVE NO OBJECTIONS TO NOMINEES’ QUALIFICATIONS

  • Senate Republicans are not arguing that the nominees in question are unqualified. Rather, they are trying to change laws and dismantle departments through the use of obstruction as a tactic.
  • Sen. Graham: “Given its recent actions, the NLRB as inoperable could be considered progress.” [Press Release, 12/9/11]

    Sen. Rubio: “We made clear to the President that without these reforms we would not vote to confirm any nominee to run the CFPB, regardless of political affiliation or qualifications.” [Floor Speech, 12/8/11]

    Sen. Hatch: “My opposition to Richard Cordray’s nomination has nothing to do with him personally, but rather to the lack of accountability of the position and the new agency as it’s currently structured.” [Press Release, 12/8/11]

    ENDING GRIDLOCK ADDRESSES AMERICANS’ NUMBER ONE CONCERN WITH CONGRESS

  • The number one reason Americans are critical of Congress is “gridlock.” The second reason: “not getting anything done.” [Gallup, 6/12/13]
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