Assistant Majority Leader Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., called the GOP critique “as empty as any argument I’ve ever heard on the floor of the Senate.”
D.C. Court Caseload
In 2011, GOP senators argued that the workload of the D.C. appellate court did not justify filling vacancies. They renewed that critique on Tuesday, with Hatch and fellow Utah Republican Mike Lee both citing falling case numbers.
But Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont and other Democrats noted the court’s vacancies have doubled during the past two years, with four of 11 slots now empty.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., added, “Obama is the only president in the 65-year history of the D.C. Circuit Court not to have a single judge confirmed [to the court] during his first term.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also weighed in, telling reporters at a news briefing Tuesday, “The court has never been this understaffed in its history.”
The D.C. appellate court is widely viewed as the second most powerful U.S. court, behind only the Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, Durbin and New York Democrat Charles E. Schumer cited the influential nature of the court as the core reason for GOP opposition to Obama’s pick.
Leaders from military and veterans service organizations joined Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a press conference to urge the Senate to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for veterans. Wicker, Ayotee, and Graham earlier called for a bipartisan solution to replace the $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.