First on CNN: Reid to push for ‘nuclear option’ in filibuster fight
July 11th, 2013
09:35 AM ET
9 months ago

First on CNN: Reid to push for ‘nuclear option’ in filibuster fight

Washington (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected Thursday to push his fellow Democrats to support a controversial change to Senate rules - over the objection of Republicans - that would prevent filibusters against executive branch nominees, according to a Democratic source familiar with Reid’s thinking.

Such a move, if successful, would likely enrage Republicans who have warned of a “meltdown” in cooperation with Democrats if the new rules are enacted.

Reid will push to use the so-called “nuclear option” when Democrats meet privately Thursday to discuss what to do about their contention Republicans have abused the filibuster to block the president’s picks for top cabinet and agency posts. It’s not clear if enough Democrats will go along with Reid.

“Presidents – be they Republican or Democratic - deserve to have the people working for them that they choose,” Reid argued in a recent floor speech. “The Senate’s role is to advise and consent. But Republicans have corrupted the founders’ intent, creating an unreasonable and unworkable standard whereby the weakest of rationales is often cited as sufficient basis for blocking major nominees.”

Republicans argue they have not abused the filibuster and, in fact, President Barack Obama has won confirmation of nearly all his nominees.

“If this were a Republican president and the shoe were on the other foot, does anyone seriously believe that Washington Democrats would be going along with something so preposterous?” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asked recently on the Senate floor. “Of course not.”

Senate rule changes typically require the support of a supermajority of 67 senators, but if Reid employs the “nuclear option” he would use a disputed parliamentary tactic to push it through with the support of just 51 senators.

Several controversial nominations are awaiting confirmation by the Senate, including Gina McCarthy to be Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Thomas Perez to be Labor Secretary, Richard Cordray to head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and three picks for the National Labor Relations Board, whose original appointments were clouded when Obama named them as recess appointments, though senators argued they were still in session.

At the meeting Thursday, Democratic senators are expected to strategize over when they will push for the change in rules and which of these nominees they might use to trigger the change. The Democratic source said Reid could act almost immediately if he has the backing of enough members of his caucus.

It remains an open question as to whether 51 of the 54 senators who caucus with the Democrats will go along with the change in rules. While many more junior members of the caucus – frustrated by the numerous GOP filibusters - want the change, some veteran Democrats, who have served both in the majority and minority over their time in the Senate, are more skeptical.

“There is always a need for rules reform but the way in which the nuclear option operates would be to break the rules to change the rules,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, who is retiring after six terms in the Senate. “It’s conceivable there would be even more gridlock around there than there is now.”


Filed under: Harry Reid • Senate
soundoff (163 Responses)
  1. Flagship, NC

    Reid, do it!
    It is long, long, long overdue!

    July 11, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  2. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    The GOP , the garbage of America , sewage sounds better!!!!

    July 11, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    scott wrote

    "Republicans have for too long obstructed the Senate by using them."

    The Democrats used the same tatics, stalling and delaying everything when they were the minority, its no different.
    However their are not enough Dem's that will vote for it as they do not have the guts.
    ------------------–
    Dems were in the minority for the first 6 years of Bush's two terms. Name one thing that they obstructed, and will name ten that they have obstructed during Pres. Obama's first term. The list of blocked appointments alone is now over 100. I

    July 11, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. AGENT #22

    I am not surprised..

    July 11, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. JP

    Reid is scared....in 2014 the Senate majority will be Republican...and he will not be able to save Obama from being impeached

    July 11, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  6. Kathy Coe

    tSuperD, There is a reason they held the house, it is called gerrymandering. Democrats received 1.4 million more votes for the House of Representatives, yet Republicans won control of the House by a 234 to 201 margin in 2012. The cheaters won this time. I also think they are doing the job they were elected to do, which is to obstruct the American political process. Worst Congress ever. 10 percent approval rating. Least amount of bills passed, and still getting paid to name post offices!

    July 11, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    vbscript2 wrote:

    Funny how this is the very same thing Democrats were enraged about when it was considered to stop their own appointment filibusters just a few years ago when they had a minority in the Senate.
    ----------------
    Give me a break. George W. Bush tried to appoint someone from his White House staff to the Supreme Court.

    July 11, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  8. Yakobi

    “Presidents – be they Republican or Democratic – deserve to have the people working for them that they choose,” Reid argued in a recent floor speech. “The Senate’s role is to advise and consent. But Republicans have corrupted the founders’ intent, creating an unreasonable and unworkable standard whereby the weakest of rationales is often cited as sufficient basis for blocking major nominees.”

    Funny, Harry didn't feel this way when he was rejecting Bush appointees out of hand.

    July 11, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. cribbooky

    First, get rid of all forms of legalized vote buying and then get rid of the filibuster since it impedes progress and robs majority opinion of its rightful power.

    July 11, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  10. thesaj

    Funny, I remember when Bush was in office. His nominations were constantly harassed, and prevented from being put in position.

    Each administration change, it gets worse. I wish Reid had the balls to be honest, and admit the Democrats do this too. And both sides need to stop.

    July 11, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  11. sly

    Republicans: The Party of Stupid.

    Name ONE thing any Republican has done in the past 15 years in politics, besides get 500,000 people murdered in a blood lust for someone else's oil.

    The Party of Stupid.

    July 11, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "Funny how this is the very same thing Democrats were enraged about when it was considered to stop their own appointment filibusters just a few years ago when they had a minority in the Senate."

    Except it's not the same, because the Dems at the time had only filibustered a couple people, not created a pattern of filibustering almost every single nominee for 5 years. It's not a distinction with no difference. The GOP back then was threatening to go nuclear simply because they didn't want to have to deal with ANY filibusters. The Dems are threatening it now because filibusters are now the rule, not the exception.

    July 11, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  13. Joe Rockbottom

    I hope so. Republicans have been blocking progress for way too long. It is time to get the country moving again and the only way to do that is to push republicans out of the way. They have no plans to help the country any time soon, so might as well dump then in the trash can and get on with things.

    July 11, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  14. daniel

    For all those who support this, I dont want to hear any crying if 2014 brings a republican senate. This will apply to the democratic minority just as much as the current republican minority.

    July 11, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  15. Mack

    Do it already Harry. All they do is say NO anyway.

    July 11, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "Reid is scared....in 2014 the Senate majority will be Republican...and he will not be able to save Obama from being impeached"

    Name the "high crimes and misdemeanors" that would justify it. Hmmm? No, "presidenting while black" does not count.

    July 11, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. Joe Rockbottom

    "Reid is scared....in 2014 the Senate majority will be Republican...and he will not be able to save Obama from being impeached"

    ________________

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Really? With the troglodytes the Repubs have been putting up lately I will be surprized if ANY new repubs get elected. No one with functioning brain cells would vote for these peoples (which, of course is why ONLY tea party people vote for them!). The fact is that the repubs will LOSE seats.

    As to Obama being impeached...For what, may I ask. That requries a crime to be committed. He has not committed any crimes. So, I guess you are out of luck on all counts!

    July 11, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  18. Lynda/Minnesota

    "It is time to get the country moving again and the only way to do that is to push republicans out of the way. They have no plans to help the country any time soon, so might as well dump then in the trash can and get on with things."

    x2

    July 11, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  19. Ron in SC

    The GOP does nothing but obstruct everything. They are only interested in pushing their tired old ideology now sprinkled with Tea Party extremism. They can either do their job which is supposed to be the peoples work or get left behind.

    July 11, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. stephen douglas

    Well if Harry Reid is for it, then, I am totally against it. That is the most flagrant lying s o b politician I have ever seen, and an embarrassment to his own party and to the entire country.

    July 11, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  21. irunner

    Republicans are warning of a meltdown in cooperation? Is cooperation another word for total obstruction?

    July 11, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  22. JJ236

    Both sides are just bad. Reid is the poster child of ineffective politicians.

    July 11, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  23. Rosslaw

    The prospect of "enraging" the republicans is laughable. It's like saying we should stop shooting at the taliban in Afghanistan because we "enrage" them. The national republican party reached the status of a real national security threat to the United States a long time ago.

    July 11, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  24. Bob

    "Such a move, if successful, would likely enrage Republicans who have warned of a “meltdown” in cooperation with Democrats if the new rules are enacted."
    ------------------------------–

    Just what "cooperation" are they talking about????

    Constant obstruction is NOT "cooperating".

    July 11, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  25. Bob

    thesaj

    Funny, I remember when Bush was in office. His nominations were constantly harassed, and prevented from being put in position.

    --------------------------------–

    Utter and complete tripe.

    July 11, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
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