Senate averts 'nuclear option,' confirms presidential nominee
July 16th, 2013
07:15 PM ET
1 year ago

Senate averts 'nuclear option,' confirms presidential nominee

Updated at 8:18 p.m. ET on 7/16

Washington (CNN) –
Senators reached a tentative bipartisan deal to avert the so-called "nuclear option" on Senate rules, a change that would have drawn Republican ire and stalled major legislation.

At issue was what Democrats call unnecessary and lengthy delays of seven of President Barack Obama's nominees.

While Democrats control the chamber, they need Republicans to reach the 60-vote threshold necessary for getting anything through.

Senate rules allow for one member to hold up any piece of legislation or appointment, making the filibuster a powerful political weapon for Republicans in a sharply partisan political climate.

Under the deal, Republicans agreed to lift them and allow confirmation votes, while Democrats said they would withdraw two contentious nominees to the National Labor Relations Board.

Obama responded with two new nominations: Nancy Schiffer and Kent Hirozawa.

Obama put the original appointees in office during a period when he says the Senate was in recess.

But Republicans who have chafed at the composition and decision making of the labor board, held up confirmation votes for months.

The NLRB has been a political lightning rod with conservatives angry over its composition and what it considers a pro-union agenda at the expense of business.

As evidence of the agreement, the Senate confirmed Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The agency was created after the 2008 financial crisis and Cordray has been running it on an acting basis.

More votes are likely on other pending nominees.

Obama said he was pleased with the development.

"Over the last two years, I've nominated leaders to fill important positions required to do the work of the American people, only to have those positions remain unfilled – not because the nominees were somehow unqualified, but for purely political reasons," he said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had threatened to take the "nuclear option" to change the rules in order to prevent filibusters of executive branch nominations. This would have allowed them to be confirmed on a simple majority vote of 51.

Reid had warned Republicans if they continued blocking some of Obama's Cabinet and agency picks, he would make the drastic move without their consent.

Such a move would have brought sharp opposition from Republicans, who have threatened to block legislation as a consequence.

Any use of the "nuclear option" would have stalled passage of several important items moving through Congress, like tax reform, judicial nominations, government spending bills and a debt ceiling increase.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the White House "was not involved in negotiating" the tentative deal but provided information and answered questions.

CNN's Ashley Killough, Lisa Desjardins and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Senate
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. 1108

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Look up what Harry had to say in 2005 when he was in the minority and the Repubs threatened the Nuke Option because the Dems were holding up Bush's nominations.
    --------------
    One name: Harriet Myers

    ------------------------
    re-read my post.

    July 16, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  2. mtcawa1

    I would like to see Reid retire, he pushes through one dirty trick after another, from his campaign to before acts. I'm so sick of dirty politicians and their clever finagling to get their greedy, corrupt, agendas passed. Obamas picks are scary, racist, biased, and many times characters with extremely shady backgrounds that are glossed over.

    July 16, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. jb1963

    I say no deal. Just nuke all the republicans.

    July 16, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. Mark

    When Republicans play hardball, Democrats rush to surrender.

    July 16, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  5. Bill from GA

    It seems the current obstruction may be more related to the job, rather than the candidate chosen to fill the job.

    Not that will matter to the repubs, if they soon get the majority.

    July 16, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  6. Snarky MacFee

    Too bad they are not this eager to compromise on bills related to te general welfare of this country. Again this is not a democracy but an IDIOCRACY.

    July 16, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. just sayin

    Rudy NYC
    just sayin wrote:
    he was elected president, not dictator. 535 other representatives were also elected with clear majorities. those are the people that legislate, not obama. he has to work with them and not try and steam roll them with his far left agenda. they do not work for him or report to him. they represent the people that put them in office. when are the far lefties going to grasp the concept of a democratic republic? never it appears.
    --------
    Seriously? Whatever happened to "Country First" among Republicans?
    -----

    they are putting their country first. they know that the far left agenda of obama and the democrats will destroy it. the american people are already seeing it with obamacare. why do you think they all got elected in 2010? just wait until 2014 when the stench of obamacare perpermeates the air. did you see that there are now 3 large unions that are against it and say it will destroy the middle class? where have you been rudy? watching too much msnbc i guess.

    July 16, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  8. vbscript2

    "I can guarantee one thing. Should Republicans ever gain control of the Senate, one of the first things that they will do wil be to change the rules to their advantage."

    Funny how they didn't do that for the decade that they controlled the Senate prior to 2007.

    July 16, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  9. Randall Norris`

    Once again Harry Reid and the Obama administration raise the white flag of surrender. Is there NOTHING they will fight for? Apparently not. Reid is worthless. Simple fact. What does less than the US senate–a corpse!

    July 16, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. it must be said

    Reid won't go nuclear because he know the Democrats stand a darn good chance of losing the Senate in 2014. He does not want to be in the minority without the filibuster. Trust me. He is doing this to save his own skin.

    July 16, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. MagicPanties

    This is supposed to be government ruled by majority, so toss the stoopid rule that let's minority republicans block anything.

    July 16, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  12. JHL

    I hate it when facts get in the way, but let's try to distinguish two circumstances:

    (1) There are nominations for federal judges – those have been held up and filibustered by both parties. Arguably that's probably ok as these appointments aren't part of the President's staff or team. The nuclear option should not be used.
    (2) There are nominations for executive positions – those have been held up and filibustered by both parties, but more often by Republicans. These executive nominations should not be at the control of the minority. The nuclear option should be used.

    Don't confuse the two situations unless you simply don't understand the difference. If that's the case, party on!

    July 16, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  13. rs

    The folks here complaining about GOP obstructionism should review their history. This little pas de deux happens every time the 'other' party gains control. Everyone loves rules and regulations until they have to live by them, then suddenly it's 'the other guy's' fault that things are such a mess. The nuclear option has been threatened before. A back-door compromise has been reached before. Everyone just calm down and carry on politics as usual in Washington.
    ______________________
    GOP Senate- almost 450 filubusters in 5 years, and the continual demand that anything must pass with a "super majority" of 60 votes. I.e. they have tied the Senates hands to the minoriy's desires. The House is simply filled with their ultra-radical TEA Party members who simply cannot do anything – unless it hurts the majority of Americans.
    Meanwhile, the GOP fill their clown car- campaigning already for 2016- whith precisely the same lunatics that they lost the LAST election with.
    At NO POINT in American history has the so-called loyal opposition been so simply out-of-control. The GOP is behaving completely without resonsibility- and thats a problem for a tw0-party nation.

    July 16, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    1108

    Look up what Harry had to say in 2005 when he was in the minority and the Repubs threatened the Nuke Option because the Dems were holding up Bush's nominations.
    ------------------------–
    "Mr. President, you cannot appoint your chief of staff to the U.S. Supreme Court."

    July 16, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. wgf

    "in exchange Democrats would agree to withdraw two nominees to the National Labor Relations Board. "

    Once again the Dems cave as the GOP extracts its pound of flesh. There's a reason why the GOP thinks it can get away with being obstructionists - because the Dems allow it to work for them.

    July 16, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    vbscript2

    "I can guarantee one thing. Should Republicans ever gain control of the Senate, one of the first things that they will do wil be to change the rules to their advantage."

    Funny how they didn't do that for the decade that they controlled the Senate prior to 2007.
    -------------------------–
    Funny how they didn't mount more filibusters in four years than in the entire history of the Senate combined, either.

    July 16, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    just sayin wrote:

    they are putting their country first. they know that the far left agenda of obama and the democrats will destroy it.
    --------------------------
    They are putting special interests firsts, and their constituents have been bamboozled into passionately believing that what is good or the rich and powerful is also good for them, the little people.

    July 16, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  18. sonny chapman

    Chapter One of the Karl Rove Play Book is that Repubs. must strive to make Democratic led Govt. inoperable. All Repub. Members of Congress do their part faithfully every day.

    July 16, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  19. Vicente Ramos

    Wouldn't it be refreshing to see Democrats show a little backbone instead of making deals with Republicans whose clear aim is an exclusively pro-business, anti-union, anti-minority, one party state?

    July 16, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  20. emskadittle

    really what would be so bad with 51 percent vote for everything

    July 16, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    "The NLRB, which weighs labor disputes, is supposed to be non-partisan but it has become one of the most politically polarized agencies in Washington."

    Oh, for the love of God. Congress has itself become one of the most politically polarized "agencies" in Washington. Nothing in the past 5 years has gotten done for the betterment of Americans. Nothing. So, yeah. Mission Accomplished, GOPerville.

    Hey, America. The joke is on us. We elect these fools ... time and again. They sit back and collect their finger pointing media time, courtesy of a too lazy media unwilling to do their homework and too dependent upon certain Congressionals too willing give them their daily talking points.

    The 2014 midterms will be a good indication of where the Grand Old Party has taken us thus far and an even better indication of how many of us are still willing to follow along their yellow brick road of trickle down prosperity... all the while wringing our hands and complaining we are not being heard or taken seriously ... as we are being pushed off the cliff by continually voting for their lies and obstruction.

    July 16, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
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