Mr. President, we now have a new rule called the Biden rule, which I guess was invented this morning.
What happens when my friend the Republican leader, as he did yesterday, talks about what Senator BIDEN has said is that he never completes the little presentation Senator BIDEN made. Senator BIDEN did not say there wouldn’t be any nominations. Here is what he said in ending his presentation. At the end of his speech in 1992, Senator BIDEN said:
Compromise is the responsible course both for the White House and for the Senate. If the President consults and cooperates with the Senate or moderates his selections absent consultation, then his nominees may enjoy my support as did Justices Kennedy and Souter.
That is what this is all about. Senator BIDEN never said there wouldn’t be any nominations approved, and that was evident in the oval office yesterday. Vice President BIDEN told the story of a Republican President calling him down—he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee—and said: OK, we are having some problems here. I have 10 names on a piece of paper. I want you to look at it and give me your rough estimate. I will not bind you to this, but which of these do you think would work?
These were people that a Republican President presented to the Democratic chair of the Judiciary Committee saying: Give me your impression of these people. So they went over them—yes, yes, yes, no. They had 10 names.
That is the same thing that happened yesterday in the White House. President Obama said: Do you have any names for me? Give them to me. I will be happy to take a look at them.
So there is no Biden rule, unless the Biden rule is that we will continue doing what we have always done here in the Senate. And what is that? We approve in any Presidential election year—in a Presidential election year we always take care of a nomination. We have never in the history of the country not done that, until now.
Now, the other thing is we keep talking about a lot of political things, but we have an obligation based on the Constitution of the United States to do something about these nominations we get from the President. We have a constitutional duty to do our jobs, and that duty is to give advice and consent to the President when he sends a nomination up here, which we will have in a matter of a week or so.
And we do it quickly. We don’t spend months and months doing this. The Republicans’ unprecedented call to block any nominee is more of the obstruction that we have had here too often. This has never ever been done before.
As for my friend the Republican leader to talk about statements I made and the senior Senator from New York made, of course we made statements. It didn’t affect what we did around here.
I hoped people listened. I hoped it slowed down what President Bush was going to do. But the fact is President Bush did what he wanted, and he, in the process, was able to present nominations to us and we looked them over.
Now we have a new standard. We are not going to meet with whomever this person is. We don’t know who it is, but we are not going to meet with him. We are not going to hold hearings, and we are not going to vote. That is wrong.