Merkley: Rules Change a Victory for the American People

Washington, DC – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement after the Senate changed its rules to allow nominations to be confirmed with a simple majority vote as provided for in the Constitution. Merkley, along with Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), has led the effort in the Senate to reform its rules in order for it to become a more functional institution.

“Today’s rule change is a victory for the American people. The endless abuse of the filibuster on nominations has done great damage to the independence of our courts. The minority party has filibustered too many qualified nominees to our Executive and Judicial branches, not because of any character or qualification issues, but because they were nominated by our current President. That is just wrong. Nominees deserve up or down votes. These filibusters have been contrary to the spirit of our Constitution, which envisions coequal branches of government.

“The nominees that the Senate minority has blocked over the past year were nominated to positions that affect the American people and the economy in vital ways, including the nominees to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Housing Finance Agency.  The judges on the DC Circuit Court rule on issues that directly and deeply impact middle class families, like health care, workplace safety, and clean air and water rules. Moreover, the endless filibusters have taken up endless weeks of the Senate’s time, better spent on boosting manufacturing, investing in our infrastructure, and improving education. 

“Ending the abusive filibuster on nominations is a big step toward restoring the functionality of the Senate, and that matters for all of us. I hope we continue to look at ways to make this legislative body work better. We face big challenges as a nation, and we need a Congress that can take on those challenges.”

Senator Merkley led efforts to change the rules of the Senate in both January 2011 and 2013. In July, Senator Merkley worked with Leader Reid in an effort to change the Senate rules regarding executive nominations. Out of that effort, a deal was struck in which the Senate approved numerous pending nominations, including Richard Cordray for Chair of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Gina McCarthy for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.