Changing the Senate rules to make it easier to confirm the administration’s nominees was a necessary but insufficient reform:

Judicial nominees that get voted out of committee still face a lengthy backlog on the Senate floor.

People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group, estimates [Majority Leader Harry] Reid may have to burn up 204 hours of floor time to overcome Republican dilatory tactics and clear the 32 nominees pending on the floor.

While the nominees will certainly pass if they come up for a vote, “Senate rules allow the minority to insist that the Senate devote time to needless ‘post-cloture debate’ before final confirmation,” People for the American Way wrote on its website Thursday.

There are 96 judicial vacancies on the nation’s federal courts and 38 of them are considered judicial emergencies, according to the group.

“If this keeps up, Democrats will be left with no alternative but to explore additional reforms to Senate rules and committee procedures in order to break the logjam,” said Michelle Schwartz, director of justice programs at Alliance for Justice.

And, of course, the Senate just failed to extend unemployment benefits even though 59% of the body supported the measure. There is a lot of debate about whether or not the Republicans can seize control of the Senate in the upcoming midterms, and that prospect worries Democrats who are contemplating further reforms that would weaken the minority party, but things are not going to get better if they do nothing. We are squandering a Democratic presidency, and impotence is not a great electoral selling point.

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