Unanimous Consent Request—Executive Calendarby Senator Richard J. Durbin
Posted on 2013-12-20
DURBIN. Mr. President, first I wish to thank my colleagues from
New Hampshire and South Carolina.
There is at least an opportunity or a tradition at the end of a calendar year that we take the nominations pending in the Senate, both in committee and on the calendar, and literally return them to the White House. That means that in the beginning of the next year, we start over. It may mean a hearing, it may mean postponement, but we lose all we have achieved up to this point. We absolutely have to start over. I would argue at this point that we seriously consider changing that tradition, and I will make a unanimous consent request to change it.
There are some 238 total nominees who are at issue here. Eighty-three are on the Executive Calendar and 155 are pending in committee-- nominations sent by the White House to Capitol Hill which have either been lost--not lost in committee but held in committee--or sent to the calendar. Of the group I have just mentioned, of the 238, 47 are judicial nominations, 36 are Ambassadors--and I have read through the list of countries here and they range from some of the smaller ones to larger countries as well--and 86 are nominees to Cabinet-level agencies. So it is a wide spectrum of appointments that have been sent for Senate consideration to Capitol Hill.
We are embroiled in an internal debate about the rules of the Senate concerning the filibuster and nominations. It is one that has not been resolved to the satisfaction of either side of the aisle, but we have labored through it over the last several weeks and will when we return.
I am going to make a unanimous consent request that those nominations--all of them; the military nominations as well as others-- be held here on the calendar and in committee and not be returned to the White House, thereby requiring we repeat everything we have done in this previous year. We don't get high marks at the end of this year for our legislative performance, and to throw aside all of the effort that has been put into these nominees and require the White House to start over is literally a waste of time and unfortunate for these nominees, many of whom have been waiting for a long period of time for consideration and a vote by the Senate.
This is a chance, with this unanimous consent request, to get the next year off to a good start, where we can take what has been done with nominees, use it, take those nominations that are on the calendar, move forward; they will still be subject to an up-or-down vote. The Senate has to work its will, and that will not be compromised at all by the unanimous consent request I am making, but I am hoping we can get it through so that when we return on January 6, we will have an opportunity to move with a little more dispatch and a little more productivity in the Senate.
As in executive session, I ask unanimous consent that all nominations received by the Senate during the 113th Congress, first session, remain in status quo, notwithstanding the provisions of rule XXXI, paragraph 6, of the Standing Rules of the Senate.