News Column

Obama Praises Senate for Agreeing to Filibuster Deal

July 17, 2013

U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday praised the Senate for acting on long-delayed presidential nominations and called for action on "middle-class priorities."

The Senate voted to advance one of Obama's nominations amid indications a deal was near on averting a showdown on procedural filibusters.

Senators voted 71-29 to move Richard Cordray to the brink of being formally approved as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

A final vote on Cordray was expected late Tuesday, The Hill reported.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said a possible agreement for votes on stalled White House nominees could stop the Democrats from using the "nuclear option" -- a vote to change Senate rules to limit use of the filibuster.

"We may have a way forward on this," Reid said on the floor after a 3 1/2-hour meeting of senators."I feel fairly confident." Reid said while details have not been worked out, and that probably everyone would not be satisfied with the possible agreement, the emerging bargain was "not a bad deal."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was attempting to line up six Republican votes on Obama administration nominees to the National Relations Board, Roll Call said.

"We are going to move forward with the Cordray nomination," McCain said.

Obama said in a statement released by the White House after the breakthrough his nominees "have waited far too long for a vote."

"Over the last two years, I've nominated leaders to fill important positions required to do the work of the American people, only to have those positions remain unfilled -- not because the nominees were somehow unqualified, but for purely political reasons," the president said.

"In the weeks ahead, I hope the Congress will build on this spirit of cooperation to advance other urgent middle-class priorities, including the need to take action to pass commonsense immigration reform and keep interest rates on student loans low for families trying to afford a higher education," Obama said.

Reid said he would discuss the possible agreement with Vice President Joe Biden and other Democratic leaders, The Hill reported.

Senators emerging Monday night from a rare, bipartisan, closed-door caucus meeting in the richly decorated but rarely used Old Senate Chamber said no deal was struck during the session.

Some of the 98 senators who attended said they were confident an agreement could be reached Tuesday to defuse the tense partisan standoff.

Filibustering senators are allowed to speak for as long as they wish on any topic they choose. A filibuster can be stopped when 60 senators vote to end debate and bring the filibustered matter to a vote.

Reid has said if Republicans try to filibuster the controversial nominations Tuesday, Democrats will change Senate procedures so only 51 senators are needed to end a filibuster on an executive-branch nomination.

The 60-vote threshold to end filibusters would remain for judicial nominees and legislation.

Democrats and allied independent senators hold 54 seats.

Changing the Senate rules would also require 51 votes.

"There's no deal, but there's a much better understanding," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., one of his party's most senior senators.

Source: Copyright UPI 2013

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