It finally happened. A majority in the Senate took a vote that will allow them to go back to work for the American people. What is being called a “nuclear option” is actually a procedural move to ensure that government can function efficiently and fulfill its mission to serve the American people. It guarantees that we will no longer be held hostage to an undemocratic process.
And Iowa’s Senator Harkin was one of the majority who supported a change in the Senate rules that will ensure that a minority of senators can no longer filibuster the president’s qualified judicial and executive nominees. If you would like to thank Senator Harkin for his vote to stop the unprecedented level of obstruction aimed at shutting down the government from the inside, we will add your name to the growing list of Iowan’s expressing their support. We will be delivering a “THANKS for GIVING us a Voice” message during Thanksgiving week. To be included, click here: Harkin Thank You, and give us your name and city and we’ll be sure the message gets to him!
Rules reform came after unprecedented obstruction from Republican Senators, exemplified in the filibusters of all three of President Obama’s current nominees to the vital U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit – Patricia Millett, Nina Pillard, and Judge Robert Wilkins. Although presidents have a constitutional duty to fill federal judgeships and these nominees had the support of a majority of the Senate, these nominees were blocked because the Republican minority took advantage of internal Senate procedure that required a supermajority of votes. This reform imposes simple majority rule; ensuring that most judicial and executive nominees will be confirmed if a majority of the Senate supports the given nominee. Today’s reform does not affect votes on Supreme Court nominees.
Iowa Citizen Action Network, along with our allies, has been leading the charge against the crisis in the Federal Courts. As one of the founding members of the Iowa Fair Courts Coalition, our mission is to ensure that Iowans understand the importance of the court system and their own power to stand up for their rights.
As you are no doubt aware, since President Obama was elected, Senate Republicans have stood in his way, preventing us from having a fair, functioning, and diverse judiciary. While the Senate’s role is to advise and consent on the president’s judicial nominees and to block a nominee only under “extraordinary circumstances,” Republicans often blocked President Obama’s nominees with no justification at all. The obstruction in this Senate simply went too far. Instead of wasting time on partisan political games, the Senate can now focus on the important business that it needs to accomplish.
We can all agree that a fully-staffed federal bench matters. The filibuster was once a procedural safeguard for the minority, used only four times between 1917 and 1960. Now it is commonplace. It no longer ensures unfettered debate – rather it awards veto power over presidential nominees to a minority of the Senate. This important reform will renew the focus on filling the many vacant seats on our federal courts that make rulings on important issues that affect all of us.
If you would like to make a contribution to help us continue our work, you can go to: YES, I’d Like To Help to make a secure, online donation. Any amount will help!!
As always, thank you for your continued support. Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you believe would be interested! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Sue Dinsdale, ICAN Executive Director