“We have not been able to confirm a person for that job. They refuse to allow us to bring that up, and — and he was recess-appointed. Now, we have the Republican-dominated D.C. Court of Appeals who have said, look, the president can’t even do recess appointments now,” Reid said. “So, we’re left with few alternatives, and we’re going to have to move forward and do something to change that.”
The D.C. Court of Appeals has long been a sore point for presidents of both parties. Obama recently had to withdraw the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to serve as a judge on the crucial appellate court after Republicans successfully filibustered her. Obama remains the only president to serve a full four-year term without successfully nominating a judge to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Guns, Budgets Also Discussed
During the wide-ranging conversation Friday with the NPR affiliate in Nevada, Reid took calls from several listeners and responded to Twitter questions. On the prospect of House-Senate negotiations on a final budget resolution, he said Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., planned to meet next week with her House counterpart, Republican Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, on reaching an agreement outside the conference committee process.
“If that bears no fruit, then I want regular order. I want a conference to be held to work out the differences between the House and the Senate,” Reid said.
Much of the interview dealt with issues relating to the gun legislation that’s due to reach the Senate floor this month. At one point, Reid talked about how personal the issue is for him, referencing his own gun ownership and his father’s suicide.
“Now, I’m here at my home in Searchlight. In the other room, I have a shotgun, I have a couple rifles, I’ve got lots of pistols, so I understand guns,” Reid said. “My father killed himself, committed suicide with a gun. So, I know a lot about guns, and there’s no easy answer to a lot of the problems we have, but we have to try. We can’t just walk away from this.”
Reid also reiterated that the final Senate package must include enhanced background checks for firearm purchases.
“We’re going to do something with background checks. Is it going to be the background checks reported out of the judicial committee? I hope so,” he said, before adding that the language could very well look different. Negotiations continue on how to craft an expansion of the background check system in a way that can win votes from both Democrats and Republicans.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.