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July 16, 2013

Sanders Calls Filibuster Deal Insufficient to Cure the Senate's Woes

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Tuesday he welcomes a last-minute deal struck by Senate leaders to avert a major showdown over the institution's rules. 

But while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called the deal a "step forward," Vermont's junior senator said it was not enough to remedy the ills of "a seriously dysfunctional Senate."

The deal clears the way for confirmation votes on five of President Obama's long-stalled nominees, including the top jobs at the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Labor and the Consumer Financial Protection Board. In exchange, President Obama will withdraw two controversial nominees to the National Labor Relations Board and replace them with two others, who are expected to receive speedy confirmation.

As late as Monday night, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had threatened to change the Senate's rules to ban filibusters against presidential nominations, unless Republicans agreed to confirm Obama's nominees.

Speaking on the Senate floor after the deal was struck, Sanders said the minority party's ability to scuttle legislation supported by a majority was "a perversion of democracy."

"While this agreement addresses the immediate need for the president of the United States to have his cabinet and his senior staff confirmed, this agreement today only addresses one symptom of a seriously dysfunctional senate," he said. "The issue that must now be addressed is how we create a procedure and a set of rules in the United States Senate which allows us to respond to the needs of the American people in a timely and effective way — something which virtually everybody agrees is not happening now."

Here's a video of Sanders' speech:

 

Sanders is scheduled to discuss his reaction to the deal in greater detail Wednesday on Vermont Public Radio's "Vermont Edition."

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