Reid blasts unprecedented obstructionism

REID BLASTS UNPRECEDENTED OBSTRUCTIONISM…. Maybe this will help bring some much-needed attention to the story.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) excoriated Republicans on Thursday for stalling more than 200 executive and judicial nominees that in some cases have been lingering on the executive calendar for months.

“Senate Republicans are simply so opposed to everything, absolutely everything, that they even oppose putting people in some of the most important positions in our government,” Reid said in a floor statement.

In the midst of the H1N1 flu outbreak, Republicans put a hold on President Obama’s surgeon general nominee. The federal courts are backlogged, but Republicans are blocking votes on President Obama’s judicial nominees. The White House has sent qualified people to the Hill to lead the Office of Legal Counsel, head the General Services Administration, and a variety of diplomatic posts, but Republicans have put holds on all of them, too.

This just isn’t normal. Indeed, the Senate isn’t supposed to function this way — and it never has functioned this way. It’s obstructionism on a scale without precedent.

Keep in mind, we’re not talking about regular ol’ opposition to White House nominees. If GOP senators wanted to reflexively oppose, en masse, every nominee the administration to the Hill, that would be fine. In fact, it’d be a huge improvement over the status quo.

Instead, Republican senators simply don’t want these nominees to get a vote at all. The officials wait in limbo for months — some have had their lives put on hold since March, waiting for a simple up-or-down vote — and government posts that need to be filled remain empty while the 40-seat minority dithers.

It’s an embarrassment to the institution.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.