Sources: Reid, McCain engaged in secret weekend talks on 'nuclear option'
July 15th, 2013
05:47 PM ET
10 years ago

Sources: Reid, McCain engaged in secret weekend talks on 'nuclear option'

Washington (CNN) – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. John McCain engaged in quiet negotiations over the weekend and got close to averting the so-called nuclear option over a dispute surrounding President Obama's nominees, but they failed to seal the deal, sources in both parties tell CNN.

“The door opened a crack,” according to a senior Democratic source.

McCain told Reid he found the six GOP senators needed to join Democrats in breaking filibusters of the nominations, giving Democrats a key part of what they want: approval of Richard Cordray to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

McCain told Reid that in exchange, the president would have to agree to withdraw two nominees for the National Labor Relations Board whom Mr. Obama had put in office by recess appointment, Sharon Block and Richard Griffin. Republicans disputed those appointments, and the Supreme Court agreed to take up the case.

The NLRB, which hears and rules on labor disputes, is one of the most politically polarized institutions in Washington.

According to sources in both parties, Reid told McCain he couldn’t go along with the idea because they could not find replacements willing to go through what will surely be a politically rough nomination for an NRLB term that would be up in 2014.

Still, sources in both parties say this could be the seeds of a deal to avert the nuclear option – a Democratic threat to get around GOP filibusters by changing the Senate rules for seven Obama nominees, and allow them to be approved by a simple majority.

Reid said the change he is proposing is "very minimal," applying only to Cabinet and executive branch positions.

"This is not judges, this is not legislation - this has allowing the people of America to have a president who can have his team in place," Reid said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

A rare bipartisan meeting of all 100 senators is slated to take place late Monday in the Old Senate Chamber to discuss this idea.

Leading up to that, private talks continue.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was seen leaving Reid’s office.

Filed under: Harry Reid • John McCain • Senate • Uncategorized
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Donkey Party

    So sick of the domestic terrorist GOP. Enough with the foreplay, Civil War 2, so we can eradicate the racist right-wing and all who support them once and for all.

    July 15, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  2. Tom

    "A rare bipartisan meeting of all 100 senators" You mean, rare as in "never?" Let me guess how this is going to go: Republicans will demand that the only compromise they will accept is for Democrats to drop the nuclear option idea and shut up. Democrats will say no. I'm still not seeing how the nuclear option can possibly make the environment more toxic.

    July 15, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    The Dems never compromise........that simply will NOT happen.

    July 15, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  4. Thomas

    The GOP is childlike !

    July 15, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  5. Norma Vessels

    Keep this in mind, Senator Reed .. no Republican is going to agree on anything that will help our President.

    July 15, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  6. Andrew

    Reid, remember you did this the last time with a hand shake. Don't take McConnell's word for anything.

    July 15, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  7. penguin

    The solution is easy. Have the President put forth 3 names. The minority can strike 2 and the Senate votes on the nominee not stricken

    July 15, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  8. RapidRon

    Republicans have 1 goal - Enriching themselves.

    They do not care about the American people at all.

    July 15, 2013 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  9. samb

    if harry gives in to mccain's offer or in general, he's a total wimp!

    July 15, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  10. Mike Texoma

    Reid is a cooler head. I would go ahead and nuke. The problem with negotiating this thing, as I see it, is that it leaves the impression that in areas not covered by the agreement obstruction for the sake of obstruction is still acceptable.

    July 15, 2013 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  11. Bob

    First, I agree that the NLRB nominees have to go. They are spoiled goods at this point.

    Second, here is my suggestion. Keep the filibuster as an option for all appointments, both administrative and judicial, but require that filibusters of administrative appointments be old school (require the senator to actually speak on the floor of the senate). The right of the minority to protest an appointment will be preserved, but they will have to be a little more judicious in its application.

    July 15, 2013 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  12. Steve, New York City

    Incredible. Congress is quite useless.
    Maybe they should check in with their lobbyists, on what they should say/do next.

    July 15, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  13. S. B. Stein

    If there are ways for the GOP to actually cooperate, then there is no need for this. Why don't they want the president's nominees to get confirmed? It would be nice to get a reason why.

    July 15, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  14. apetra

    ROFL, name once that the Democrats were in "negotiations" with the Republican majority leader in 1994-2008, whenever the Republicans held the Senate.

    Democrats set rules. For Republicans. They know none themselves.

    July 15, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  15. Sheila

    ""secret weekend talks"" ?? LOL – okay I get it – sounds like they are going to that weekend get-away – up there in Maryland – what's it called ?? something like "camp david" or something like that ?

    July 15, 2013 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  16. cobra

    Reid is one of the lowest kinds of politician and McCain is not far behind, they both need to to. " A politician is the lowest form of life on earth. A liberal democrat is the lowest form of politician." Gen. George S Patton

    July 15, 2013 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  17. lww

    Worthless little Johnny is a libs best friend...

    July 15, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  18. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Something needs to be done in this dysfunctional congress. McCain has no authority. This is an executive branch decision for these posts and the President should be able to decide who he wants. Nuke 'em.

    July 15, 2013 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  19. reply

    Soon or later, the GOP will rule the Senate and the DNC will cry foul when the GOP uses the nuclear option. Don't change the 60 vote rule!

    July 15, 2013 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  20. Larry L

    Mitch McConnell filibustered his own proposal. He's the only Senator in the history of the Congress to do such a shallow and foolish act. That action absolutely and with out a doubt showed his only goal failure for the U.S. Senate and our President. What a low-life, unpatriotic, slime-ball. Kentucky should be ashamed.

    July 15, 2013 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  21. Ed1

    FBI says no bias in the Zimmerman case but Holder stills wasting our tax dollars trying to get the DOJ to find a race issue.

    Time for Holder and Obama both to step down.

    July 15, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  22. Wes Scott

    Both sides need to stop the political obstructionism and start working together for the benefit of the nation. Refusing to fill vacant offices cripples the ability of our government to function properly. To cause that to happen, and then complain about the inefficiency and inefficacy if government is the height of hypocrisy.

    July 15, 2013 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  23. Robin Jones

    Take care, Harry. "Very limited" nuclear war is still nuclear war. Remember when Democrats were in the Senate minority? That will come again some day and you can depend on the favor being returned.

    July 15, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  24. george t hibs

    Reid should think this over very carefully, what goes around comes around. It would be a stupid move that the Democrats will certainly come to regret. Have you ever heard of being penny wise and pound foolish?

    July 15, 2013 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  25. tomj

    I have no idea why Reid is even talking to John McCain. McCain is certainly NO military or foreign affairs expert. He's just an old bitter warmonger. Maybe it's time that both these old men retire.

    July 16, 2013 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
1 2