Unhappy Republicans say Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has given President Barack Obama a present this season — a gift certificate good for confirmation of 12 judicial appointments, not long after the voters had delivered the Democrats a lump of coal in midterm elections.
Democrats, who must turn over power to Republicans in January, were in position to confirm not only the judges, but 11 other appointees before the Senate wraps up work for the year.
At the root of the dispute lay a combination of the Senate’s all-but-indecipherable rules, Cruz’s attempt to use their murky corners to his advantage, and a bipartisan desire of many lawmakers to finish work for the year and return home for the holidays.
Under the Senate’s rules, Cruz’s maneuver allowed Reid to begin the time-consuming process of confirming nominations on Saturday at noon — when lawmakers had been scheduled to be home for the weekend.
Had Cruz not made his move when he did, according to officials in both parties, Reid would have had to wait until Monday night — more than 48 hours later. Disgruntled Republicans said they felt confident that Reid’s rank and file would not have been willing to remain in Washington in that case, and only four or five nominees would be confirmed instead of 23.