GOP bristles at deal that halts delaying tactics
WASHINGTON — The Senate voted by the slimmest margin Wednesday to end a filibuster against President Obama's choice to head the Labor Department, as this week's agreement averting a poisonous partisan clash over nominations and the chamber's rules barely survived its toughest test so far.
By 60-40, senators rejected Republican objections and voted to halt delaying tactics aimed at killing Thomas Perez's nomination to become labor secretary.
It takes 60 votes to end filibusters. With all 52 Democrats and both Democratic-leaning independents voting to halt the delays, Republicans supplied the minimum number of votes needed to keep Perez's selection alive — six.
In so doing, the GOP seemed to signal that while they would adhere to the agreement, their ranks are bristling with unhappiness over the deal itself and against Perez in particular. In the deal announced Tuesday, top Republicans agreed to end delays against seven stalled Obama nominations and Democrats promised to drop efforts to change Senate rules to limit filibusters.
Perez is a top Justice Department official whom Republicans have criticized for his handling of a whistle-blower case against the city of St. Paul, Minn., and for not heeding a congressional subpoena that sought his personal emails in that case.
“What I'm saying to my Republican colleagues is, I don't care what deal you cut,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a leader of the opposition to Perez. “How could you possibly agree to move forward on a nomination when the nominee refuses to comply with a congressional subpoena?”
Republicans voting to end the Perez filibuster were Sens. John McCain of Arizona, an architect of this week's deal, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Susan Collins of Maine, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
It was not clear when the Senate would vote on final confirmation of Perez's nomination, but it was expected soon.
Minutes earlier, senators voted 82-17 to approve Fred Hochberg to a second four-year term to head the Export-Import Bank, which provides financing for U.S. exporters.
“We have now started a new era, I hope, a new normal here in the Senate” of increased bipartisan cooperation, said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., as the day began.
But a day after the agreement on nominations was announced and largely hailed by both parties, conservatives and other Republicans made their unhappiness with Perez — and the overall deal — clear.
“It seems to me the implication is we're supposed to simply routinely rubber-stamp everyone,” said Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa. “There can't be any objections ever, whatsoever. Well, that's not what the Constitution calls for.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Gunfire kills 3 at party in vacant house in Omaha
- Wind knocks out power in Los Angeles
- New York father kils 3 generations of family, himself
- Marines killed in helicopter training exercise in Southern California
- Police search finds no bombs on planes at Atlanta airport
- Sea otter conceived in wild born in California research center
- Marine Corps’ general outlines priorities, vision
- High-value detainees allowed family calls
- Snowstorm crawls up coast, hitting New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, parts of Pennsylvania
- Boy, 13, arrested in fatal stabbing at David Wark Griffith Middle School in East Los Angeles
- Iowa event jump-starts primary campaigns