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Cohen: Change the Rules to End the Senate Nominee Hostage Crisis

Cohen: Change the Rules to End the Senate Nominee Hostage Crisis

If the Senate Republican minority continues to use Senate rules to roadblock virtually every one of President Obama’s key nominees to vital government agencies, it’s time for Senate Democrats to use majority muscle to change the Senate’s rules, Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Larry Cohen said today.

Cohen, in a conference call with reporters, said the obstructionism rampant in the Senate today, “never existed in this country before. It’s a 21st century problem” and if the Senate doesn’t act soon:

The implications are enormous with the NLRB [National Labor Relations Board] all but shut down.  

While the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted along party lines last week to send to the Senate floor a package of nominees to the NLRB, there is still a likelihood that Senate Republicans will use procedural maneuvers to block an up or down vote.         

The nominees—three Democrats and two Republicans—must be confirmed before August, when the term of one of the current NLRB members ends and the board will be without a quorum.

Cohen said the Senate dysfunction goes beyond the NLRB.  

This is much broader than the story of the labor nominees. It’s about judicial nominations blocked at every level. This is about Gina McCarthy at EPA [Environmental Protection Agency].…This is about Richard Cordray at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.…It’s about Republicans saying, ‘We don’t want anyone....We don’t really care who they are. We’re not going to confirm anyone.’

The coalition Fix the Senate Now is mobilizing, Cohen said, to urge lawmakers to establish new Senate rules to guarantee debate and an up or down vote on nominees who receive committee approval.    

The real question is for the majority party in the Senate: Do you care about the fact that our government is not functioning and that we have a ridiculous process for nominations. Are you prepared to take action?

You can find out more at Fix the Senate Now and visit to sign a petition urging the Senate to act on the five NLRB nominations and visit the Give Us Five Facebook page.

Text NLRB to 235246 to join this campaign and ask the Senate to confirm the board nominations now. (Standard message and data rates may apply.)

Please call your senators at 1-888-264-6154.

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