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. Steveo

    @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.
    ------------
    One thing? I'll bite.. Medicaid part D!

    July 11, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  2. Steveo

    @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.
    --------------
    Yep! Thank God the Dems don't do the same, right? Oh wait!

    July 11, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  3. Arun

    He's a whimp, he's not going to do anything!! As for the repubes, what mealtdown in communication are they talking about. They haven't brought anything to the table since Obama took office. Off with their heads!!

    July 11, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  4. J

    Reid is a crook just like his daddy Obama. Anything illegal way to get it out of the hands of real Americans to get his way he will try and do it. What a lowlife liberal.

    July 11, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. Michael Sawyer

    I was against it when the democrats were doing this, I am against it now that the republicans are doing it.

    100% support Mr. Reid.

    July 11, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  6. Bart

    Why isn't anyone bringing up the outrage of Republicans in 2006 when they threatened the nuclear option and argued that the President's nominees deserved an "Up or Down Vote'? That was a huge deal and no one brings that up.

    July 11, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  7. ShawnDH

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

    That is funny you remember that, because it never happened.

    The forced cloture votes on nominations have increased more than 1,000% in the past 4-1/2 years. What are you talking about?

    July 11, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. ShawnDH

    "Republicans who have warned of a “meltdown” in cooperation with Democrats if the new rules are enacted."

    Ummmmmm, the GOP had this "meltdown" 4-1/2 years ago when Obama was elected. They have actively obstructed sand sabotaged our government ever since because they are a bunch of sore loser crybaby fanatics. So, Reid should bring it on. Let's do this.

    July 11, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  9. gopersareignorant

    Retardicans melted down 4.5 years ago and are continuing to melt. If Reid has any balls he will do it. Long over due.

    July 11, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  10. Awestruck

    Look at the baseless lies of the liberal dolts and drones on CNN. What do we expect from people that voted in an inexperienced, amateur, community organizing fool as president. I say let Reid do this.. It will guarantee a Republican controlled senate and House in 2014. Obama is a failure, Reid is a failure, liberal policies are failures.. Go ahead Reid – give us the Senate..

    July 11, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  11. Boisepoet

    1949 – 2008 total cloture votes = 20 (including 7 for Bush2)
    Obama presidency total cloture votes = 16.

    That is what obstruction looks like. Pull the trigger Senator Reid; Republicans have enough damage to America.

    July 11, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  12. Davis

    Dems...the party of stupid.

    July 11, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. Phil in AZ

    Go ahead Harry – change the rule and watch the republicans take the senate in 2014 and use the no filibuster rule to repeal obamacare – I will gladly trade some chump hack friend of BO as head of some agency for that right!

    July 11, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. Jabbadahut

    Yeah, let's get some more of the stuff that this administration has been doing for almost 5 years, you need to thank the HOR for keeping this administration from committing more fraud than they have!

    July 11, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    Threatening someone with the status quo is generally extremely ineffective. "Oh yeah!?!?! Well, if you do, then I'm gonna keep doing the same thing I've been doing!!!!" By radicalizing themselves and behaving in a consistently extremist manner, the GOP has largely neutered themselves. Yawn.

    July 11, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  16. al

    It should never come to this. These folks need to do the jobs they are being paid to do, plain and simple.

    July 11, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "if you can't get your way, you will try to enact a law to silence opposition.. Sounds communist to me"

    And that would be because you don't have the first clue what communism is. You might as well have said "sounds fruit salad to me" for all the relevance "communism" had to what you were trying to use it to describe.

    July 11, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Phil in AZ

    Go ahead Harry – change the rule and watch the republicans take the senate in 2014 and use the no filibuster rule to repeal obamacare – I will gladly trade some chump hack friend of BO as head of some agency for that right!
    ----------------
    Try reading the article. Reid is proposing suspending filibusters against Cabinet members, department heads and other staff. He's not suggesting to completely do away with it. That would require a Constitutional amendment. His proposal would limit filibusters to actual legisilation, while excluding members of the president's staff. A POTUS should be able to pick his own team, and do so in a timely fashion.

    July 11, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  19. Granite Stater

    BOTH Parties do the same things.....Personally I think at this point it should take 2/3 (67) senators to pass ANY measure or approve ANY appointee....this would ensure forced bipartisanship as we have not have 2/3 of the senate in 1 parties hand in the popular vote era......Inaction is ALWAYS better than BAD action.

    July 11, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  20. theseconddavid

    Wasn't in 2006 the Republicans were considering exactly the same thing? Pull the trigger Ried. bury your party in a hole they can never dig out of.

    July 11, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    "BOTH Parties do the same things.....Personally I think at this point it should take 2/3 (67) senators to pass ANY measure or approve ANY appointee....this would ensure forced bipartisanship as we have not have 2/3 of the senate in 1 parties hand in the popular vote era......Inaction is ALWAYS better than BAD action."

    Right now, it takes 60 votes to get past cloture because the GOP insists on filibustering everything. Neither party has 60 Senators. What you just suggested would, in fact, simply make the situation worse by 7 votes. Good job.

    July 11, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  22. Eli Cabelly

    Yes please. Return filibusters to the time when federal filibusters had the same requirements as those in Texas with Wendy Davis and Congress might actually get something done for once.

    July 11, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  23. ART

    Both parties do the same thing but nothing compared to whats been going on since this President got elected. To theseconddavid If any party has dug themselves into a hole it is those good for nothing Rethuglicans who for all practical reasons appear not even to be able to wipe their own behinds.Never have I ever seen a bunch of losers in my life,they are all a waste to the human race, and I think the best part of any Rethuglican dripped down the thighs of their fathers

    July 11, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  24. Ed Stevens

    As long as these are cabinet posts, who cares? What's 1,2 or 22 more incompetent people in this administration? If this includes SC nominations, you go nuclear and so will 60% of US population.

    July 11, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  25. Sgt Rock

    When does O'Bama start taking the blame for things? Everything is Bush's fault, never his. HE is "O'Bama, the Perfect", and must not be questioned or challenged as to what the truth really is.

    July 11, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
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