GOP Blocks Senate Panels From Convening

Posted March 24, 2010 at 12:13pm

Senate committees didn’t meet on Wednesday after Republicans refused to give unanimous consent for all panels to convene.

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs panel was able to meet for the confirmation hearing of Robert Harding to serve as administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, and the Armed Services Committee was granted permission to meet for a hearing on military health. But all other committees were not able to meet, which drew the ire of several Democratic chairmen.

“Senate Republicans’ tactics of obstruction and delay know no limit,” Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement, after his panel was unable to hold confirmation hearings for judicial appointees Goodwin Liu and Kimberly Mueller.

“They have objected to reasonable timetables to consider President Obama’s qualified judicial nominees, and now they are objecting to allowing the Judiciary Committee to conduct hearings in connection with these nominations,” Leahy added. “Senate Republicans continue their ill-advised protest of meaningful health reform legislation by exploiting parliamentary tactics and Senate Rules, to the detriment of the American people and, in today’s instance, at the expense of American justice.”

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) also criticized the GOP’s refusal to offer unanimous consent for the committees to meet, a move which prevented the Energy and Natural Resources Committee from hearing testimony Tuesday on bark beetles.

“In Colorado, we have mountains covered with orange-colored dying trees, and, as a result, homes are at risk of wildfire and hikers and workers in danger of being hurt by falling trees,” Udall said. “This is a public safety emergency that needs to be addressed immediately.”

Under Senate rules, no panel can meet two hours after the Senate gavels into session or after 2 p.m., unless a unanimous consent is given. GOP Senators — who are looking to trip up passage of the health care reconciliation package — raised an objection to that request on Tuesday and again on Wednesday.