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Mr. BURRIS. Madam President, I thank my colleague from Virginia and the distinguished Senator from Rhode Island. It is a pleasure for me to join in this very important discussion in the Senate.
I am proud to join my Democratic colleagues on the floor this morning to discuss some of the obstructionism we have seen from the other side on a number of Presidential nominations. It is the duty of this Senate to provide advice and consent on more than 2,000 government officials appointed by the President of the United States. These individuals range from Cabinet level officers to agency administrators, ambassadors, Federal judges, and more. They are tasked with leading important agencies and offices such as the Transportation Security Administration, our diplomatic missions around the world, and various law enforcement organizations.
These nominees generally make it through committee on near-unanimous bipartisan votes. They are extremely dedicated public servants who stand ready to defend our national security, advance our shared interests, and carry out the important work of the American people. But when these nominations come out of the committee, they invariably hit a roadblock. They hit a stone wall. They are stalled the moment they come to the Senate floor. That is because my Republican friends are holding up dozens of these nominations.
Scores of important offices remain vacant because of the same partisan tactics of distraction and delay that we have seen time and time again from the other side. It is not that my Republican colleagues have any problems with the qualifications of the nominees themselves. They enjoy bipartisan support in committee. They carry the high esteem of both Democrats and Republicans. When we are finally able to break the filibuster and have an up-or-down vote, these individuals are almost always confirmed unanimously, as the judge from Senator Warner's State of Virginia was, with a vote of 99 to 0. It was senseless for that nomination to be held up for that long.
But thanks to the same old political games, it is difficult to get cloture on these nominations so we can get a floor vote in the first place. The same Republican Senators who vote in favor of these nominees in committee--the same Senators who later support them on the floor--try to keep us from moving forward as a full Senate. This is obstructionism at its worst. This is pure politics at the expense of the American taxpayers.
This is a waste of our time and effort, and the American people deserve better. They sent us to Washington to solve big problems--to create jobs, to reform health care, to strengthen our educational system. But my Republican friends are not interested in working together to confront these challenges. Instead, they drag their feet on noncontroversial things such as Presidential nominations in hopes of scoring political points. They bring this body to a standstill just so they can advance a partisan agenda. Meanwhile, dozens of important Federal agencies are without leadership at the highest levels. Thousands of government employees are working without the public servants who have been appointed to lead them--all because of Republican political games.
So I would ask my good friends from the other side of the aisle to abandon these tactics of distraction and delay. Let's have a substantial debate about the issues, not an argument over procedure. Let's stop wasting time and start working together to solve the problems we face. In the meantime, let's confirm these nominees so they can take up their appointed offices and begin to serve the American people.
I yield the floor to the distinguished Senator from New Hampshire.
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