According to the AP, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has given President Barack Obama the gift of the confirmation of 12 judicial appointments not long after the voters had delivered the Democrats a lump of coal in midterm elections.
Cruz, a Republican, disputed the claim through his spokesman on Monday.
But there was no disagreement that Democrats, who must relinquish their 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.
Among them are nominees that Republicans have sought to block for two relatively high-profile posts – Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, and Sarah Saldana as head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
(Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the agency that will oversee the new administration policy on immigration that Cruz wants to defund.)
At the root of the dispute is a combination of the Senate’s all-but-indecipherable rules, Cruz’s attempt to use their them to his advantage, and a bipartisan desire of many lawmakers to finish work for the year and return home for the holidays.
“My concern about the strategy he employed is that it has a result he didn’t intend,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said of Cruz’ maneuverings on Friday night.
Some officials said Cruz was personally informed by GOP aides that Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid was primed to take advantage if he went ahead.
Under the Senate’s rules, Cruz’s maneuver allowed Reid to begin the process of confirming nominations on Saturday at noon — when lawmakers had been scheduled to be home for the weekend.
According to officials in both parties, had Cruz not made his move when he did, Reid would have had to wait until Monday night — over 48 hours later. Republicans said they felt 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.
MSNBC Up With Kornacki video.