Mitch McConnell doesn't keep "gentleman's agreements."
Republicans may finally push Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to fix the filibuster. After last month's so-called gentleman's agreement between Senator Reid and Mitch McConnell, a few of President Obama's nominees finally cleared the Senate. But, Republicans couldn't keep themselves from going right back to their old tricks. Republican lawmakers are already threatening to block each and every one of the President's nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Right-wing lawmakers appear united behind Senator Chuck Grassley, who has proposed legislation to eliminate several seats on the important court. Republicans say that the D.C. Circuit is overstaffed, but Democrats contend that Senator Grassley's effort is just a ploy to hold on to that court's conservative majority. According to Republican lawmakers, the D.C. Circuit handles less cases than many other circuit courts around our nation, and thus does not need as many justices. However, the D.C. Circuit is responsible for deciding the constitutionality of many important executive decisions and appointments.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy said, “The D.C. Circuit decides some of the most important cases in our nation, with significant impact on the lives of all Americans. This court must be allowed to operate at full strength.” Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee narrowly approved Patricia Millett in a party line vote. Every single Republican on the committee voted against her. It's quite possible that Republicans will stage a filibuster to prevent her from being confirmed by the entire Senate.
That would bring us back full circle to Senator Harry Reid's promise to change the Senate rules on confirmation votes. It's anyone's guess as to whether Senator Reid will live up to his threat and reform the filibuster this time, or if Republicans will be allowed to continue blocking presidential appointments that have been held up for years.