Feinstein, Boxer now backing filibuster reform

Feinstein, Boxer now backing filibuster reform

Filibuster reform has picked up a pair of important supporters in the Senate.

California Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, who had been considered strong supporters of the filibuster rule, have had a change of heart and are now ready to throw it out — at least for confirmation votes on presidential appointments.

Feinstein told the “Talking Points Memo” website that Republican filibusters blocking votes on three of President Obama’s judicial nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia pushed her over the brink. . “It is unconscionable for a president not to be able to have his cabinet team, his sub-cabinet team, and not be able to appoint judges,” she said. Meanwhile, the Huffington Post quoted Boxer declaring herself “very open to changing the rules for nominees,”

On Monday, just 37 of 100 senators were able to block action on Obama’s nomination of Judge Robert Wilkins to fill a seat on the DC Circuit. Fifty-four senators, a majority the 100-member body, favored proceeding to a debate and vote on Wilkins but were stymied by the filibuster rule, which requires agreement by 60 senators.

A group of reform-minded senators came close to changing the rules earlier this year but were sidetracked by the latest in a series of “gentleman’s agreements” under which the Senate’s old guard pledged to cut back on the use of filibusters to block debate and action. “The new day lasted one week, and then we’re back to the usual politics,” Feinstein said.

Common Cause’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the filiubster rule is scheduled for argument in the DC Circuit Court in January.