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Obama Presses Filibuster Restraint With Republicans

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President Barack Obama is greeted by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) as he arrives at the U.S. Capitol Thursday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) | Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama made a plea to Republican senators in their private meeting Thursday to ease up on their filibusters of his nominees, but he appears to have gotten a cool reception.

"The president made the pitch that it would be useful to his administration if nominees were more quickly confirmed," said Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) after the president spent more than an hour chatting with the GOP caucus as part of his "charm offensive."

But it seems that Republicans will not relent on bogging down nominees, and also do not agree they are obstructing Obama's picks.

"I think the facts, particularly on judicial nominations, [show] our record is better than [in] other administrations, as far as one party approving the judicial nominations of a differeint party's president," Moran said.

"As I understand it, it's only two judges that we've not confirmed," he added. "And with regard to administrative appointments, I think in every instance that I know of, they've either been very controversial nominees -- Sen. [Chuck] Hagel -- or there's been senators who wanted information before another secretary was confirmed."

In the case of Hagel, a Republican, his former colleagues mounted the first-ever filibuster of a defense secretary. That was not long before they deep-sixed Caitlin Halligan's appointment to the federal appeals court for the D.C. circuit -- a court that now has four vacancies.

Numerous other non-controversial judges have taken months to get through the Senate. At the moment, there are 18 nominees pending on the floor, with another 12 waiting in the Judiciary Committee. So far, the GOP has actually stopped five of Obama's nominees, though Moran was right that only two of them -- Halligan and Goodwin Liu -- failed in cloture votes. Democrats blocked seven Bush nominees in two presidential terms. Republicans have also required 30 filibuster votes on Obama nominees, compared to the 18 times Democrats forced such cloture votes on Bush nominees in all eight of Bush's years.

That record didn't seem to help Obama with the GOP.

"So the president made the pitch," Moran said. "I don't think it had a lot of credibility with Republican senators."

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