Obama stood by a trio of nominees for the D.C. Circuit Court in a photo op in the Rose Garden Tuesday and excoriated Republicans for “unprecedented” blockage of his judicial appointments.
“For the good of the American people,” Obama said. “It has to stop.”
Later in the day, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada kept up Democrats’ steely demeanor. Asked if Senate Democrats were interested in negotiating with House Republicans over a fix to subsidized student loans, which are set to double at month’s end, Senator Reid was direct.
“I'm not looking for a compromise,” he said. “I'm looking for passing our bill.”
That Obama and Reid would take such a strong stand on these issues is peculiar, in some ways, given the facts on the ground. On student loans, both sides are close, at least conceptually, to a compromise. Meanwhile, on judicial nominations, the numbers give a mixed picture on whether Obama's picks have, in fact, been unfairly treated by the Senate GOP minority.
In May, Republicans passed a fix that would peg the interest rates on student loans to the Treasury Department’s cost of borrowing over a decade – a proposal similar in many respects to one offered in Obama’s own budget proposal. They said there was room for compromise.
But Democrats want to keep student loan rates at their current levels for a handful of years by eliminating tax breaks for the wealthy – which they know is a nonstarter for the GOP-led House.
And so the Senate, Reid said, will vote on both Republican and Democratic student loan proposals on Thursday with little chance of either side bending in the meantime.
On judges, it’s true that Republicans have stymied a D.C. Circuit Court nominee, Caitlin Halligan, for reasons that many legal observers felt were largely about her political leanings and not about her judicial qualifications. But recent studies suggest that the treatment of Obama’s nominees has not been too far outside the recent historical norm.