“Senate Republicans refused to give President Obama’s pick to replace Supreme Court Justice Scalia even the courtesy of a hearing. It was disrespectful, and historically unprecedented.
But there is still something we can do to get Merrick Garland confirmed before Obama leaves office.
At 12:00 noon on January 3, 2017 (according to the Constitution), the terms of 34 U.S. Senators will expire. At that point, the Senate will briefly consist of 66 sitting senators—until Vice President Joe Biden, in his capacity as Senate president, begins swearing in the senators-elect.
Before Biden begins the proceedings, he will preside over a Senate that consists of 34 Democrats, 2 independents & 30 Republicans—as the remaining Senators are not sworn in yet.
At this point, Democrats could ask to finish Senate business as it pertains to President Obama’s nomination of Judge Garland.”
By Josh Gerstein
President Barack Obama’s much-touted pivot to Asia — a foreign policy drive which has languished recently amidst a lack of high-level direction — could be reinvigorated by Vice President Joe Biden, analysts said.
The pivot to Asia was a central foreign policy theme of Obama’s first term, underscoring a need many policymakers saw for the United States to shift its diplomatic, security and economic attentions from the traditional focus on Europe and the Middle East to the rising powers in the Pacific — most notably, China. [EXCERPT]
BY STEPHANIE CONDON
A comprehensive immigration reform bill passed with strong support in the Senate on Thursday, bringing Washington one step closer to accomplishing a major milestone that both Democrats and Republicans have long sought.
Now, however, the bill goes to the House, where, at best, it faces significant headwinds.
The measure passed 68 to 32, with Vice President Joe Biden presiding over the Senate chamber and the senators all casting their votes from their desks. Senators are rarely seated at their desks for votes — the largely symbolic move is typically reserved for confirming Supreme Court nominees or major votes, such as the 2010 Affordable Care Act vote or the 2011 resolution commending troops and the intelligence community for the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Fourteen Republicans joined 52 Democrats and two Independents in voting for the bill, including Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa, R-N.J., the Republican who was appointed to his seat this month after the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. No Democrats voted against the bill.
After the legislation passed, President Obama released a statement commending the Senate and urging the public to lobby the House to pass some version of the bill.
“As this process moves forward, I urge everyone who cares about this issue to keep a watchful eye,” he said. “Now is the time when opponents will try their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop commonsense reform from becoming a reality. We cannot let that happen.”