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Public Statements


Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. REID. Mr. President, this week the Senate will consider a number of nominations.

Tonight we will vote, as I have just indicated, on Pamela Chen to be a judge for the Eastern District of New York and Katherine Failla to serve as district judge for the Southern District of New York.

Later this week we are going to consider the nomination of Caitlin Joan Halligan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. This circuit now has four vacancies. Ms. Halligan's colleagues say she has ``a brilliant mind'' and ``an abiding respect for law.'' Those are direct quotes. But despite her outstanding credentials and strong support from across the political spectrum, Republicans filibustered her confirmation last Congress.

President Obama is the only President in the 65-year history of the DC Circuit Court not to have a single judge confirmed to that court during his first term. Remember, there are now four vacancies. Since she was nominated, two additional vacancies have opened on the DC Circuit. The court desperately needs more judges.

This week the Senate will consider the nomination of John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. Mr. Brennan's nomination is expected to be reported out of the Intelligence Committee tomorrow.

Mr. Brennan served 25 years in the CIA in many extremely important delicate roles and 4 years on the White House national security staff, where he played an instrumental role in finding Osama bin Laden and decimating al Qaida. He is very qualified, he is a wonderful public servant, and he should be confirmed quickly.

This week will be a test of the Republicans' goodwill. My Republican colleagues say they respect the Senate's responsibility to advise and consent. My Republican colleagues say they don't plan to obstruct the confirmation process for the sake of obstruction, but they filibustered President Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense--for the first time in the history of the country, being a former Republican Senator--delaying Senator Hagel's confirmation for at least 2 weeks.

Republicans say they will not filibuster, but their actions say otherwise. Republicans say they are just requiring 60-vote thresholds, but the difference between a filibuster and requiring a 60-vote threshold on nominations is a distinction with no difference. In a nation founded on the principle of justice for all, requiring a 60-vote threshold on nominations is unfair. It is unfair for all. It is extremely important that we adequately staff our Federal courts, and we have not done that.

At a time when America faces so many threats abroad, it is crucial we have a talented and dedicated individual such as John Brennan leading our Nation's most prominent intelligence agency. Yet Republicans again and again inject politics into the confirmation process, both when considering judicial nominees and, most recently, when considering Cabinet nominees.

There was once a time when Republicans were the ones defending the right of the President to choose the players on his team. Back then it was a Republican in the White House.

In 2001, the senior Senator from Utah touted the ``longstanding tradition in the Senate ..... [to] afford the President a significant degree of deference to shape his Cabinet as he sees fit.''

Four years later, after President Bush was reelected, the senior Senator from Arizona pointed out that elections have consequences and said, ``The President has a right to put into place the team he believes will serve him best.''

As we consider key nominations this week and in the future, I hope my Republican colleagues honor the longstanding tradition of the Senate that they have identified and we agree with. I urge my Republican colleagues to consider that if the Senate fails to properly staff our national security agencies or the Nation's judicial system, our inaction will also have consequences.

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