Harry Reid could go nuclear this week
November 20th, 2013
11:10 AM ET
5 months ago

Harry Reid could go nuclear this week

Washington (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, frustrated by Republicans who have been blocking President Barack Obama's nominees, could invoke the so-called "nuclear option" this week - a controversial move that would change Senate rules over GOP objections to prevent filibusters of presidential nominations, according to one senior Democratic aide and another Democratic source.

Democrats are particularly upset by recent GOP filibusters of three DC Circuit court nominees.

Typically 67 votes are required to change Senate rules, but under the nuclear option Democrats–who control the chamber–would change those rules with a simple majority vote. It would mean that going forward presidential nominations for judges and executive branch officials could also be approved on a simple majority vote, as opposed to the 60 votes required to get around filibusters. The change would not apply to Supreme Court nominees.

Both sources said Reid could make the controversial rules change this week if he has enough votes among Democrats. But it appears Reid does not yet have those votes. While Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a veteran California Democrat, said Tuesday she had changed her mind and now supports the nuclear option, other longtime Democrats, including Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, have resisted taking the extraordinary step, and some moderate Democrats have not signed on to the plan.

The Democratic source said that if Reid can't get enough backing among Democrats this week, he would work to build support for the rules change during the Thanksgiving break and try again in early December.

The Democrats currently have a 55-45 majority in the Senate.


Filed under: Harry Reid • Senate
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. REGINALDB6

    Democrats Shows some BACKBONE and go NUCLEAR and STOP THIS MADNESS FROM THE REPUBLICANS. The courts need the judges, so vote for NUCLEAR,

    November 20, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Do it Harry!!!

    November 20, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  3. Warren

    Just do it. It's the way it should have been all along anyway.

    November 20, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  4. Randy, San Francisco

    Get rid of this archaic Senate rule since both parties abuse it. It just adds to the dysfunction and bitter partisan fighting.

    November 20, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  5. A True Conservative

    Go for it Harry – do you feel lucky? Everything else you have done has worked out SO well......do it.....let's see how that works out for you in the next election cycle......but then....if you're going to lose in the next cycle anyway...this is the only way you have to get these appointees in position.

    November 20, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. Data Driven

    Democrats: they're the ones tied up, wearing diapers, while the Republicans lash their whips, saying "Who's your daddy?"

    Until Dem leadership grows a pair, I'll refrain from rejoining the party. There is no reason on earth why all 55 Dem Senators shouldn't vote for the nuclear option.

    November 20, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  7. Donna

    Just remember Dirty Harry, this knife cuts both ways. When Republicans take control of the Senate in 2014, you'd better not squeal like a stuck pig when they use what YOU have given them.

    November 20, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  8. Warren

    When Republicans take control of the Senate in 2014,

    That's not going to happen, us little piggies won't let it...

    November 20, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  9. Malory Archer

    Go for it Harry. Considering turtle boy reneged on his promise to NOT filibuster FIVE MINUTES AFTER the Senate reached their gentlemen's (and ladies') agreement you have the majority of America's blessing to hammer the rethug/teabag toddlers – and don't stop until they've been reduced to a quivering mass, twisted into a putrid blob on the Senate floor, whining for mercy!

    November 20, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  10. Rudy NYC

    Going "nuclear" would not be a smart move over the long haul. Don't do it.

    November 20, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  11. Doc

    Why not? Dems have been gunning to start a civil war within the states here for a while, and this mixed with the lousy Obama Care/ACA law just might be the straw that starts it.

    November 20, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "Just remember Dirty Harry, this knife cuts both ways. When Republicans take control of the Senate in 2014, you'd better not squeal like a stuck pig when they use what YOU have given them."

    Even if the GOP were to take control of the Senate, this isn't something they could really "use." The MSM is treating it as wholesale repeal of the filibuster, calling it "nuclear," which was the term used when people threatened to get rid of the filibuster in general....but it's really a very limited change we;re talking about here, and only applies to POTUS nominees, because one party shouldn't be able to simply nullify the President's Constitutionally granted powers by abusing the filibuster willy-nilly to just block every and any appointee he attempts to make. There needs to be good reasons for preventing the POTUS from exercising his powers, not just political wrangling by the opposition, who is just attempting to save all the empty slots for later when they hope to win back the WH. Seeing as how Obama will be POTUS through 2015, this very limited change to limit the filibuster with respect to POTUS nominees would be useless to the GOP unless and until they get a POTUS of their own in 2016 or beyond. The best they could do to try to thwart it is change the rules back to allow willy-nilly filibustering of the POTUS' nominees. If they're plan is to try to leverage this as their excuse for whole-hog repeal of filibusters in an attempt to screw the POTUS while he's still in office, then most of the American public isn't so stupid that they can't tell the difference.

    November 20, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  13. Reggie53

    Harry Reid needs to be put out to pasture. We have had enough of this ignorant man. He feels he owns the Senate but wait until in 2014 when he becomes the minority senate leader. Put him in his place then!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 20, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  14. Fair is Fair

    Remember what they say about Karma, Harry.

    November 20, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  15. Thomas

    Ted Cruz / Randy Paul 2016

    Green Eggs and Aqua Buddha

    November 20, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  16. Concerned Educator, Mississippi

    Go for it, Senator Reid! Let's not continue to allow these idiots to block things that should not be political, which is the appointment of judicial nominees. We support you 100%.

    November 20, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    @ Warren

    You meen sheep not "piggies"

    November 20, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. Flagship, NC

    Give em hell Harry, give em hell!
    You are the Man!

    November 20, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  19. robert jay

    So I just tried to comment on Ted Cruz's Crossfire comments but CNN only let one comment in – Thought I get the thought out here – Typical Republican talking point with no answer – Never a proposed solution to ANYTHING just say I'm working on it – now its people who lost insurance because the "job creators" canceled policies because they didn't meet the standards – why didn't these intellectual guru "job creators" create policies that did meet the standards rather than taking the lazy easy way out by blaming people who are really trying do something positive and no just flap their big mouth!!!

    November 20, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  20. Data Driven

    @Fair is Fair,

    "Remember what they say about Karma, Harry."

    Don't know about Harry, but I'll take the risk. Government needs to work. Over 200 Obama appointees are in limbo, almost all for no good reason. It hurts the country. And if Republicans take back the Senate in 14, then so be it. It's called "scoreboard".

    What's not acceptable is the arteriosclerosis in Congress right now. Government needs to fulfill its functions as prescribed by the Constitution. If existing rules are preventing that from happening, then the rules need to be changed.

    November 20, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. jinx9to88

    The best news I heard today. Tired of the GOP filibustering everything. Any president should be able to have whoever they wants to work for them including the GOP. People vote for him to do a job but yet the GOP won't let him bring in his own people. GOOD!!!!

    November 20, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  22. jinx9to88

    What part of majority don't people understand? 51 votes is the MAJORITY!!!! And people wonder why for the past 20 years we are falling behind other established countries in education.

    November 20, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  23. jinx9to88

    On policy I say keep the 60 votes as the bench mark, but on whether the President gets to pick who he works with should be simple a majority of 51 votes.

    November 20, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  24. Tommy G

    Isn't it funny how the Democrats just want to continue to jam their agenda and appoiuntees down our throats even if it means destroying the way the Senate has done business for a long, long time.

    The REAL soution is for Obama to compromise and appoint people that both Republicans and Democrats can support. Instead, he and Harry Reid insist on bludgeoning people into submission in order to get their way.

    November 20, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |