Top senators seek deal on rules for nominations

By David Espo

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Jan. 23 2011 11:20 a.m. MST

Officials said Schumer and Alexander were reviewing the list with a goal of eliminating positions with relatively little influence over policy making at federal agencies. The officials who described the talks did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss them publicly.

Presidents in both parties have been affected by the current system.

Reid's office said this year that seven of Obama's nominees had awaited confirmation votes since 2009. President George W. Bush had only about half of his political appointees in place at the time of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, nearly eight months after he took office.

Beyond a possible agreement concerning nominees, it is not clear what, if any change the Senate will make in the filibuster rules.

Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M. and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and others have proposed a series of changes to reduce the ability of any minority to delay action by a filibuster, which can only be overcome by 60 votes or more. Democrats accuse Republicans of resorting to the filibuster as a matter of routine in the past few years to slow or defeat Obama's legislative agenda. Republicans counter that Democrats seek to deny them the right to have votes on proposed amendments to legislation, effectively locking them out.

Udall, Merkley and others also want to require any senator seeking to block action to do so openly, rather anonymously.

Online:

Senate background on filibuster: http://tinyurl.com/7kww

Senate background on nominations: http://tinyurl.com/9w3sw

Online:

http://tinyurl.com/7kww

http://tinyurl.com/9w3sw

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