While much was made of Congress’s minor bipartisan accomplishment this week, lawmakers are capping off 2013 with a fittingly ridiculous stunt. To get back at Harry Reid for scaling back their ability to filibuster, Republicans are using other confusing Senate rules to delay votes on President Obama’s nominees, who must be approved by the end of the year or go through the whole confirmation process again. In retaliation, Reid is scheduling votes at all hours of the day and night and threatening to keep the body in session through Christmas Eve. With the Senate poised for a second all-nighter in a row on Thursday, lawmakers were turning to Red Bull and cat naps on their office couches in what the New York Times describes as “an endurance contest to see who could be the most spiteful.”
Senators wound up getting a small break on Thursday night when there was a break in voting from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., but more votes are lined up through Saturday afternoon. Basically, Republicans are demanding that the Senate take the full time allotted for voting on the nominees – in some cases 30 hours – and delivering filibuster-like speeches. According to Politico, “Freshman Democrats have it the worst, taking turns presiding over an often empty chamber with the Senate gavel.”
They’re also filling the time by sniping at each other. “I think it resembles fourth graders playing in a sandbox, and I’ll give the majority leader, Harry Reid, 99 percent of the responsibility for it,” said Senator Lamar Alexander. “If Bob Byrd had been here he would have had a stroke,” added Senator Orrin Hatch, referring to his former colleague from West Virginia, who died in 2010. Good thing all these delirious people aren’t making any important decisions.