In the wake of the passage of CRomnibus --on the strength of GOP votes -- the GOP leadership in Congress and the GOP establishment has been working overtime to rough up Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Utah Senator Mike Lee. A lot of the GOP is miffed that they have to serve alongside men of principle, this produces a Devil-Holy Water effect. They also realize based on the government shutdown... an act I'd contend mobilized the GOP base to come out and deliver a beating to the Democrats in November... and the forced vote on the Constitutionality of the Obama's executive action on immigration (21 Republican senators agreed with the premise that Obama's actions were constitutional)... the leadership is panicked about the Hell the next Congress will be for them as they try to feed the pigs at the trough, accommodate the Chamber of Commerce on amnesty, and give Obama whatever he wants all the while trying to convince conservatives that they are actually putting up a fight. This is hard with a caucus moving in lockstep. With a handful of men like Cruz and Lee it becomes nearly impossible.
The story being pushed is this, that Cruz and Lee pushing for their vote on the Constitutionality of Obama's amnesty directive resulted in boodles of Obama nominees being confirmed. To believe this claim three things have to occur:
- You have to believe Harry Reid was going to let the nominations lapse and put them in the hands of the next, Republican controlled, Senate.
- You have to believe Harry Reid and his staff have never heard of a calendar.
- You have to be an idiot (this, you'll find, makes it much easier to believe what the GOP leadership in the House and Senate are selling).
The nominations were going to be voted on
With Reid's enactment of the "nuclear option" the possibility of filibustering these nominees was off the table. As the Democrats have a majority in the Senate it is pretty obvious that, absent a procedural coup which is impossible as the scheduling and rule making apparatus is in Reid's hands, the nominees were going to be approved.
Moreover, we know that Reid and McConnell had arrived at a deal to guarantee a vote on the nominees before the Senate adjourned:
A senior Democratic aide said brokering a deal with McConnell on what will pass in the lame-duck period is possible if the GOP leader agrees to move a bloc of nominees and pass an omnibus spending bill despite the objections of conservatives.
“It depends, No. 1, on their ability to keep their hard right in line so we can get an omnibus done. If they can do that, that will help. And we need some kind of agreement that processes a lot of the nominees without dragging them out,” the aide said of the GOP leadership.
Republicans believe Reid has incentive to compromise with them instead of attempting to wear them down with a marathon lame-duck session because senators who just lost reelection, such as Sens. [mc_name name='Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR)' chamber='senate' mcid='P000590' ] (D-Ark.) and [mc_name name='Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)' chamber='senate' mcid='H001049' ] (D-N.C.), won’t want to hang around the Capitol while still feeling the sting of defeat.
A senior Republican aide said it’s likely Reid and McConnell will craft an agreement to move a bloc of noncontroversial nominees, as usually happens at the end of every Congress. But any Democratic bundlers or other political patrons that Obama wants to reward will get blocked, the aide warned.
“It’s in his interest to stick to the stuff that needs to get done and not fool around with partisan extraneous matters,” said a senior GOP aide in reference to Reid. “If he sticks to the essentials, everybody wants to do the essentials.”
Senate Democrats plan to squeeze every last drop out of their majority, threatening to extend the lame duck to approve key nominees of President Barack Obama before turning over Senate control to Republicans in January.
If they hold their caucus together, Democrats can unilaterally prevail and approve Vivek Murthy to be surgeon general, Sarah Saldana to lead Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and Carolyn Colvin to be Social Security administrator, as well as nine judicial nominees, nominees Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday his chamber will consider before the year ends.
But it could get messy given the controversy surrounding Murthy and Saldana — and could require overtime for lawmakers, including defeated or retiring ones who are eyeing the exits for good. Democrats may need all their members to stick around to win tough votes, including Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who lost her seat on Saturday and has missed all of this week’s votes so far.
“Maybe we’ll have to work the weekend and maybe even work next week. I know that’s tough duty for everybody, but we may have to do that,” Reid said when asked about the road ahead for approving the president’s team.
Two Republican senators and a Senate GOP aide said a group of executive and judicial branch nominees are the remaining sticking point.
“We’ve cleared everything on our side. Noms are the holdup,” said a senior GOP aide.
Reid wants to confirm several controversial nominees, including Vivek Murthy, Obama’s choice to serve as the next surgeon general; Sarah Saldaña, his pick to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and Carolyn Colvin, his selection to lead the Social Security Administration.
He also wants to move a dozen pending district-court judicial nominees.
“We’re going to be back on Monday because Reid is insisting on these nominees at the end of a lame-duck session,” said the GOP aide.
A senior Democratic aide said Republicans are distorting the facts.
"This is simply not true. Republican objections to voting on the government funding bill itself are holding up an agreement to vote on the government funding bill," said the aide.
The Democratic expressed skepticism that Republicans are prepared to vote on the omnibus without additional votes on amendments, such as one favored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) addressing President Obama’s executive order on immigration.
The Source said it’s possible the omnibus may receive a vote Friday evening but added it’s likely the Senate will be back in session next week to crank through the stalled nominees.
The only highly controversial nominee in the group currently before the Senate is the nominee for surgeon general, whose specialty seems to be a dislike of firearms, but he was very qualified otherwise. All were confirmed on a party line vote. Reid pushed through the controversial nominees earlier in the session.
The fix was in. These nominees were going to be confirmed.
Harry Reid and his staff have a calendar
Without a filibuster and without GOP opposition to CRomnibus it is impossible to see how, absent further and precipitous descent into senility by Reid, these nominations were going to not go forward. To get an idea of the time required to push through the most contentious nominee, that of Dr. Vivek Murthy, let's look at the calendar. This would be the one that Harry Reid has access to and control of:
< Floor Action: January 06, 2014 - Received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Committee Action: February 04, 2014 - Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Hearings held.
Committee Action: February 27, 2014 - Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Ordered to be reported favorably.
Floor Action: February 27, 2014 - Reported by Senator Harkin, Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, without printed report.
Floor Action: February 27, 2014 - Placed on Senate Executive Calendar. Calendar No. 681. Subject to nominee's commitment to respond to requests to appear and testify before any duly constituted committee of the Senate.
Floor Action: December 13, 2014 - By unanimous consent agreement, debate and vote 12/15/2014.
Floor Action: December 13, 2014 - Motion to proceed to executive session to consideration of nomination agreed to in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 52 - 40. Record Vote Number: 331.
Floor Action: December 13, 2014 - Cloture motion presented in Senate.
Floor Action: December 13, 2014 - By unanimous consent agreement, mandatory quorum under Rule XXII waived.
Floor Action: December 15, 2014 - Considered by Senate.
Floor Action: December 15, 2014 - Cloture invoked in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 51 - 43. Record Vote Number: 355.
Floor Action: December 15, 2014 - Confirmed by the Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 51 - 43. Record Vote Number: 356.
Two days. From start to finish. Note there was absolutely no attempt by the GOP leadership to do anything with this nomination other than go along. Any assertion that the GOP intended to play rope-a-dope and wear down the resolve of the cadre of involuntarily retired Democrat senators is rendered completely and utterly false by this timeline. If the Cruz-Lee point of order had been addressed on Monday (it would have been voted down with the same Quisling caucus helping the Democrats), CRomnibus would have been passed Monday. The nominations would have been acted on no later than Thursday.
You are an idiot
If you believe the crap being tossed about by the GOP leadership, the Democrat leadership, and their willing tools in the media including some conservative blogs you are an idiot. If you try to convince someone else the story is true you are not only an idiot but very likely a sociopath in the bargain.
As my colleague, Leon Wolf, pointed out, this is simply an effort by the GOP establishment, working with the Democrats, to marginalize a couple of men they fear and loathe:
That having been said, the execrable public smear campaign being mounted by leadership and their blogging lackeys against him is hilarious in its completely unjustified condescension. Examples of this may be found here and here if you are interested. These attacks are notable not for what they are saying but because of the obvious attempt to not only criticize Cruz on substantive grounds but to remove him and his viewpoint from the discussion by treating him as an object of contempt and ridicule. In exactly the same way that liberals initially attacked Sarah Palin, he is simultaneously attacked as being a) an ignorant buffoon who does not know what he is doing and b) an evil mastermind who is guilty of calculated manipulation of the unwashed masses. These are textbook Alinsky tactics and it’s depressing to see conservatives use them so blindly.