Senators defend filibuster vote, cite ‘obstruction’
Both Colorado senators voted for a rule change that eliminates the opportunity for Senate minorities to stave off certain votes by the filibuster.
U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, both Democrats, voted for the rules change.
Udall said he didn’t relish the vote, “but it is necessary to protect the promise of the U.S. Constitution and to get government working again.”
Udall chided Senate Republicans’ “ongoing and historic obstruction of highly qualified nominees” that allows a minority in the legislative branch to prevent the executive branch from doing its job.
The Constitution allows the Senate to decide its own rules by a simple majority.
The rules change affects presidential appointments to the federal courts and for the executive branch.
Votes on legislation and nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court are still subject to the filibuster, meaning that a minimum of 60 senators must agree to allow a vote on an appointment or bill.
Bennet, in a statement that repeated his description of Washington, D.C., as the “land of flickering lights,” said the Senate Republicans’ “abuse of the filibuster rule” has been part of the problem leading to Congress’ inability to approve an energy strategy, changes to the immigration system or pass a farm bill.
“This obstruction of so many nominees is essentially a partial shutdown of our government that hurts our small businesses, our economy, and our ability to remain competitive around the world,” Bennet said in explaining his vote.
Neither Udall nor Bennet was in the Senate when Democrats, as a minority party, opposed eliminating the filibuster when Republicans considered it.
The Republicans, however, never put the question to a vote.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., at the time opposed eliminating the filibuster.