November 21, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME) released the following statement today after voting in support of a rule change that alters the filibuster to allow for a majority vote threshold on executive and judicial nominations, except those to the Supreme Court:
“I entered the Senate with significant concern for the way the filibuster was being continually, and in my belief, inappropriately, used to stall judicial and executive nominations and prevent legislation from moving forward. Over the past eleven months in office, and despite several earlier informal agreements brokered to ameliorate the problem, I believe the abuse of the filibuster has only grown worse, most recently with repeated partisan objections to a series of the President’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“It is important to me to go back to the language of the Constitution on this question. Article II, Section 2, defines the President’s power to enter into treaties, make executive and judicial nominations, and identifies the role of the Senate in this process. Significantly, this provision specifies that the President’s power to enter into treaties must be approved by two-thirds of the Senate, while in the same sentence, no such super-majority requirement is imposed in connection with presidential appointments. I believe that today’s action is more fully consistent with the terms of the Constitution than the previous extra-Constitutional practice which imposed a super-majority requirement for these nominations.
“My support of the rule change was not an easy decision to reach, but it reflects my belief that these nominees deserve an up-or-down vote by the Senate, regardless of which party is in the majority or which party controls the White House, and that a structural adjustment was necessary in order for that to occur and for the Senate to function better as an institution. It is important to underscore that this change still preserves protections for the minority in the consideration of legislation, and only modifies the filibuster as it pertains to judicial and executive nominations, excluding those to the Supreme Court.
“Moving forward, I urge my colleagues to see the importance and value of vigorous debate and thoughtful compromise. The country only suffers when we are not able to bridge the partisan divide and, instead, utilize procedural moves to obstruct the work of the Congress from going forward. There is a significant amount of work that the Senate, and Congress as a whole, needs to accomplish and if we are to move the nation forward, we will need to find ways to work together.”