Speed Reads

Unintended consequences

GOP blames Ted Cruz for Obama's year-end confirmation deluge

President Obama probably owes Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) a thank you card. Or at least that's what Cruz's Republican colleagues are saying, blaming the controversial Texan for allowing Senate Democrats to confirm 23 judicial and executive branch nominees, some stalled by Republicans for more than a year. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy was already confirmed late Monday.

Last Friday evening, after senators were dismissed for the weekend, Cruz used Senate rules to try to force a vote on Obama's immigration executive order. That allowed outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to call a Saturday session, starting the clock on the lengthy process of confirming nominees. Instead of the four or five appointees that Democrats could have confirmed if the Senate had taken the weekend off, Obama is now likely to get 12 judicial nominees and 11 other officials confirmed, Republicans complain.

Cruz disputes the accusations, sort of. "Everyone knows Harry Reid planned to jam forward as many nominees as he could," Cruz spokesman Phil Novack tells The Associated Press. Republican say they warned Cruz that Reid would take advantage of his self-serving maneuver. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is one of the few Republicans willing to go on the record to criticize Cruz's actions: "My concern about the strategy he employed is that it has a result he didn't intend."

"Other Republican lawmakers were far more forceful than Collins in their judgment of Cruz on Monday," notes AP's David Espo. Many of the judicial nominees have the strong backing of Republicans, and in the past month, some have passed with near-unanimous support. Any nominations not confirmed will expire at the end of the year, and Obama would have to try to get his new or renewed nominees through a GOP-controlled Senate.