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Reid Stalls JOBS Act Until Judicial Nominees Confirmed

Through some parliamentary maneuvering, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid escalated his fight over judicial nominations today.

The short version of this is: The House passed something they called the JOBS Act, with broad bipartisan support, which is actually a financial industry deregulation bill opposed by government watchdogs like Americans for Financial Reform. The full story on the bill is here. It moved from the House to the Senate, and Republicans are heavily invested with passing something they can call a “jobs bill.” The White House endorsed it, so the Senate is the last step. However, Reid wants to break a logjam on judicial confirmations which has stalled for the most part since President Obama made recess appointments of Richard Cordray to the CFPB and some members of the National Labor Relations Board. So, Reid sequenced the JOBS Act behind the confirmations:

Reid pulled procedural levers Monday to force action on 17 stalled, non-controversial judicial nominees to federal trial courts — just as the Senate was expected to take up the House-passed JOBS Act, a modest GOP-led bill to encourage economic growth by loosening regulations on small business capital formation.

That presents Republicans with a conundrum: proceed with the promised filibusters and eat up weeks of floor time while the JOBS Act sits in limbo; or accede to Reid’s demands and hand Democrats a win — and a bunch of federal judges.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated in a floor speech Tuesday he has no intention of letting the nominees be confirmed and blamed Democrats for trying to gum up the works on the small business JOBS Act.

“Look: This is completely transparent, and it’s completely irresponsible,” he said.

And who would know better about something like that than Mitch McConnell?

My hope is that Reid will keep this up, and McConnell will continue to delay and obstruct. Because the JOBS Act is actually a terrible bill that shouldn’t become law. And the obstruction on judicial nominees, which has caused a crisis in the nation’s federal courts, should be laid bare for all to see. So a good opening move from Reid.

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David Dayen

David Dayen