Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
May 23, 2015

Leahy Threatens to Change Judiciary Panel Rules to Fight Republican Obstruction (Updated)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:21 p.m. | Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy signaled Wednesday that he’s open to changing the way his committee handles nominations after facing another procedural blockade from Republicans.

This time, GOP senators are enforcing the Senate’s rule that, among other things, prevents committees from meeting more than two hours into the Senate’s day, to keep the Vermont Democrat’s Judiciary panel from holding an afternoon hearing on judicial nominations.

“Just last week, Republicans prevented the Judiciary Committee from holding an executive business meeting to consider 18 highly qualified nominees, including two Texas U.S. Marshals. Those two nominees should have been approved by the Committee last month, but Republicans failed to attend the meeting to report their nominations. As Chairman of the Judiciary Com­mittee, I have consistently shown my commitment to work with all Senators to process nominations,” Leahy said in a statement. “This obstruction sets back the bipartisan cooperation we have seen in recent weeks on such legislative matters as the budget, the defense authorization bill, and the Farm Bill. If this obstruction continues with respect to judicial nominees, I will be forced to reconsider long-held policies that have upheld the rights of the minority party in this process.”

To be sure, the Republican moves are in response to last month’s action by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and his caucus, to set a new precedent using the “nuclear option” stating that most nominations only require simple majorities to overcome the risk of a filibuster.

Leahy has held firm to a number of committee practices, the most notable of them being steadfast adherence to a “blue slip” procedure that requires both home-state senators to provide consent to the committee moving forward to consider judicial nominees in their states, regardless of party. He’s previously indicated that he hoped he would not have to change his process in the aftermath of the nuclear option.

Now, the door is certainly open to seeing Leahy change that practice, which would make it easier to get nominees through to the Senate floor for confirmation from Republican states. In his statement, Leahy noted that nominees and their families traveled from across the country for today’s hearing.

“Home state Senators were consulted with respect to the nominees scheduled to appear before the Committee today who, when confirmed, will fill vacancies in California, Maine and Maryland, and an emergency vacancy in Kansas,” Leahy said. “The families of these nominees invested time and personal expense to travel to Washington for this hearing, losses they will never recover. This escalating obstruction undermines the Senate’s constitutional responsibility of advice and consent.”

Update 4:21 p.m.

Leahy’s ranking member, Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, issued a statement responding to Leahy’s comments, noting that a committee business meeting the Republicans didn’t attend last month fell on the same day that Reid invoked the “nuclear option.”

“There’s no doubt that after the Democrats broke the rules to change the rules, it’s going to be harder to get things done. There is only one party that voted for the irresponsible rules change,” Grassley said. “And, the fact of the matter is that given the atmosphere the Democrats created by invoking the nuclear option, nominations are going to be given added scrutiny.

Grassley repeated Republican arguments that the judicial nominations have moved along on a regular basis.

“Now, they are resorting to new threats at the committee level. It’s a sad commentary on the Democrats’ rule of the Senate and the Obama administration. They are slowly but surely taking the world’s greatest deliberative body and moving towards a majoritarian body, all in the name of rubberstamping the President’s extremely unpopular regulatory agenda,” Grassley said.


    Rules, laws? – We don’t need no stinking rules.

  • mark nine

    PLEASE !, KEEP FIGHTING !, don’t give them anything – REMEMBER THE VOTES ON OBAMA CARE!!

  • Shawn Morris

    The whole lot needs to be flogged

  • Melbo58

    Go get ‘em Pat. Brush these clowns aside like the detritus they are.

    • Alan Eskew

      Nice to see the Obamo-Fascist trolls are out.

      • DaveLCAC

        They are busy with moms water colors.

  • Pachuco4u


    • SD

      Stop the Communism!!!…Liberal Fascists

    • ojfl

      Why was it not obstruction when the president was named Bush Pachuco? Why do we forget the “Gang of 14″? Because it is convenient?

  • Mark S

    To be sure, the Republican moves are in response to last month’s action by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and his caucus, to set a new precedent using the “nuclear option” stating that most nominations only require simple majorities to overcome the risk of a filibuster.


    Well there you go. Fallout from Reid’s actions.

    • David /welch

      You seem okay with the minority, rather than the majority, running to country. And, here’s speculating that you think its Obama that’s a “commie.”

      • Silly Liberals

        I guess you have never heard of Obamacare, on the plantation. Millions of American pushed from middle class into poverty under your majority.
        Must be nice to pay nothing and get all the “free” stuff.

        • David /welch

          There are many pushed into poverty because they lack health insurance. You don’t seem to know that Obamacare is for about 15% of the population—how that 15% is going to push the middle-class into poverty you will have to explain. 85% of the country already has insurance. Silly liberals just seem to know facts that you don’t.

          • William Locke

            That 15% includes at least 10 million people making more than $75,000 per year. It also includes about 10 million illegals. But here’s the deal, people who believe in capitalism believe in it because they understand it works well for most people, NOT EVERY SINGLE PERSON. Conversely, you’re living in some dreamland where there’s an alternative that works for everyone. Such a system doesn’t exist…

      • William Locke

        David your comment ignores the fact that when Republicans even threatened what Democrats just did, Democrats went ballistic.

  • Jeremy Meister

    ….they’re going to curtail the rights of the minority to increase bipartisanship?

    If I were a liberal Democrat in 2013, I’d be laughing and pissing in everyone’s face too.

    No one anywhere is lifting a finger to stop them (or even be critical)…

  • woolst1

    It’s hilarious that he complains about bipartisanship. What planet do these people live on?

  • 1TrueOne55

    Maybe Sen. Leahy would like to practice politics in the U.K. under a strong tyrant form of government. 10’s of thousands of people died for the freedoms they were denied by that form of government in the 17th Century.

    • anthony002

      Read the US Constitution. Article 1 section 5 authorizes the House and the Senate to make its own rules on how to conduct its business. Sen Leahy has every right to change the rules of his committee.

      So instead of ranting about the 17th century, please cite exactly what Constitutional mandate has been violated.

      • Southerner

        Not a problem. Please refrain from whining when the shoe is on the other foot and the repubs cram a bunch of crap down your leftist throats. But, I know that you all will whine and snivel endlessly about how “unfair” it all is.

        • anthony002

          Right wingers are the undisputed champs of ‘poor me victimization'; the so-called War on Christmas comes to mind.

          Not to worry, unlike right wingers, we liberals will accept the rules even when they do not produce a result we like. For proof, you need look back no further than the administration of President George W. Bush.

          In those heady days of Karl Roves’ permanent Republican majority, when we complained about the President’s policies, we were smugly told to try winning some elections.

          Well that is exactly what we did. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, right wingers talk about secession, and voter id. When it comes to whining and endless sniveling, right wingers are second to none.

          • Dirk Richmond

            Wow! What delusion! Are you libs born with a mental defect? The very same lib vermin who made this self-serving change whined, howled and gnashed their teeth when it was suggested by the Conservatives. Such douchebags.

          • Southerner

            I love the way you leftist scumbags always rewrite history, but I don’t really care. The right will be in charge one day and we will bury you bastards.

          • Silly Liberals

            Even by liberal standards you are ignorant, but I would not expect much different from the parasite living off the taxpayers.
            When the lunatic left loses the senate next year, I hope you assholes self abort. The nation would be stronger.

          • sreyno

            You mean Opoophead never uttered those exact words? Seems to me the dummycrats are the ones that victimize the minority. Compromise to the tyranny that runs the Senate is: My way or the highway! What Hippocrates !!!!

          • susanna

            left wingers are leeches living of the right wingers

          • William Locke

            You’re comparing apples and oranges. Republicans threatened the nuclear option and didn’t do it. Democrats threatened and did it. It disgusts me that people like you defend the reversal of 150 years of tradition for what? 2 nominees?

      • 1TrueOne55

        He has every right to change the rules of his COMMITTEE not of Congress. But as is the same rule in life be careful of what you wish for because it can come back an cut you off at the knees. Some of these rules go back a long time when civility was the norm in the Senate.

        Ever since Obama blew through that Senate and into the Whitehouse that era of civility has been bent out of shape.

  • Texas4obama

    Notice how in the article below Grassley mentions why the GOPers
    didn’t show up ‘last month’ but didn’t mention last week’s meeting or
    today’s meeting.
    The GOPers need to be voted OUT-of-office!

    • ojfl

      Polls show you are wrong 4obama.

    • wazzupFolks

      Shelia Jackson Lee a/k/a Texas4Oblammy is the only Texan who would think that changing the 200 year old Senate rules in order to get the Statist agenda passed is a good thing. Good grief.

    • Crutch

      You are going to be one shocked Obama supporter come November 2014….Can’t wait!

  • ericpedersen

    Democracy? We don’t need Democracy, just throw that out too. It’s what you Liberals want after all.

  • Socialism: Organized Evil

    The rarer the opportunity, the more precious that we have the liberty to see it and seize it, while the more serious the loss if we fail to recognize it and make the most of it.

    • tpartynitwit

      The more times I work the word “liberty” into a sentence, the more righteous I feel. Conform!

      • Socialism: Organized Evil

        If you don’t liberty, there’s always slavery. The democrat party certainly has an illustrious history of it.

        • tpartynitwit

          How does one “liberty?”

          • Socialism: Organized Evil

            There’s always slavery.

  • Ed Davis

    Nearly 200 filibusters in three years. Sen Grassly would like us to forget how often the minority party has hobbled the Senate. Squeeze them, Mr Leahy!

  • Socialism is Organized Evil

    Although we rely upon the geniuses among us to create the gadgets, gizmos, and gasoline we depend upon, genius becomes bottled up and useless when centralized restrictions limit liberty.

    • tpartynitwit

      Which republican overlord invented gasoline?

      • thevoiceofcommonsense

        dont know but they sure tax the shXt out of it

      • Socialism is Organized Evil

        Gasoline wasn’t invented, it was refined.

  • James

    Cue the ” All this obstructionism is new…. The President was overwhelmingly elected… They’re racist neanderthals ….”.

    Senate Dems hate the house of reps but they have no problem creating another one of their own. 2014 will sure be interesting.

  • Crutch

    Leahy, the Senator who was thrown OFF the intelligence committee for leaking classified information. A real patriot he is not. Vermont-you are full of imbeciles…………….who vote.

  • DaveLCAC

    Pay backs will be Hell Leahy, no mouth from you or the Demorats when it happens.

  • Ken Connolly

    He has always reached out across the isle and looks for bi-partisan support. Mr Leahy was the Nuclear Option declared by your party Bi-partisan? Now another procedural change to get your way. Tyranny at work in America will not prevail.

  • Silentmajoritynomor

    What a Liar>>>>>

  • susanna

    another crook hat should be in jail

  • William Locke

    Republicans should use every little lame procedural trick in the book until Democrats remove their illegally appointed nominees and change the rules back to what they were. All Americans should support this regardless of party.

  • Gregory Williams

    There are too many empty seats on the bench in RED states – the President can, if he so chooses, set aside the CUSTOM of having a states Senators recommend people for the bench if they will not send him candidates he would agree to nominate and some have made NO recommendations at all since Obama was elected – he is required to nominate persons NOT to let Senators pick them as has been custom and NOT law.

    It’s time to fill the bench whether conservatives like it or not.

  • Thomas Aquinas

    The paradox of equality recognizes that, since each of us is different, the only way to equalize us would be to treat each of us unequally.

  • Defend Liberty

    Most collectivist attacks attempt to exploit the common misconception that the term “individualist” refers only to isolated individuals.

  • The Beech Bums

    Although liberty offers a history of prosperity, we must always be on watch for despotic designs conjured up as appeals to emotional whims.

  • The Beech Bums

    Once the British recognized liberty’s benefits, they began to study liberty’s history, improve its principles, and broaden its influence.

  • Liberalism is Nonsense

    With moral legal principles as the basis for general rules of law that minimize coercion, government actions become more predictable.

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...