WASHINGTON – Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., (search) chided Senate Republicans on Saturday for bickering and sniping at taxpayer expense during a 40-hour talkathon to protest filibusters on judicial nominees.
Boxer, delivering the Democrats' weekly radio address, said the Wednesday-Friday talkfest boiled down to a waste of time and money. She noted the expense of keeping lights burning and Senate staff and security on the payroll throughout the stint.
"Well, being in session around the clock to do something to actually help the American people does make sense," she said, preferring to have logged time discussing job creation, education, health care and security issues.
The Republicans arranged the nonstop session to call attention to four previous filibusters (search) by Democrats to block President Bush's judicial nominations.
But Boxer said Republicans overlooked the fact that the Senate has confirmed 168 Bush nominees and blocked only six of "the most extreme" in their conservative views.
"That's a 97 percent track record," she said. "Now I don't know about you, but if I am in a negotiation and I get more than 95 percent of what I ask for, I'll shake hands, I'll smile and I'll get a good night's sleep."
In each of three successive votes Friday morning, Republicans secured 53 votes to advance the judicial nominees to a final confirmation vote. That was seven short of the 60 needed to end debate on the matter.
Boxer said Democrats would rather have used that time finishing work on a veterans bill, raising the minimum wage, completing highway and transit legislation that would create 800,000 jobs and passing a manufacturing-jobs bill.
"There they were, fighting with every fiber of their being for lifetime jobs for their six judge nominees, while 3 million Americans have lost jobs since this administration took office," she said.
The debate was the longest continuous debate since a 57-hour marathon on Senate election campaign legislation in 1988.
Democrats were allotted half the debate time, using it both to defend their position on judges and assail the administration's economic policies.