Harry Reid takes nuclear option on Senate confirmation

Thomas Lifson
Harry Reid today broke 225 years of precedent in the U.S. Senate, and had his Democrat majority change Senate rules for confirmation of judges and most executive branch officials. From now on, only a simple majority will suffice, not the 60 votes formerly required. Supreme Court nominations will still be subject to filibuster, however.

Paul Kane of the Washington Post reports:

The vote to change the rule passed 52 to 48. Three Democrats - Sens. Carl Levin (Mich.), Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) - joined 45 Republicans in opposing the measure. Levin is a longtime senator who remembers well the years when Democratic filibusters blocked nominees of Republican presidents; Manchin and Pryor come from Republican-leaning states.

Infuriated by what he sees as a pattern of obstruction and delay over President Obama's nominees, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) triggered the so-called "nuclear option" by proposing a motion to reconsider the nomination of Patricia Millett, one of the judicial nominees whom Republicans recently blocked by a filibuster, to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The Senate voted 57 to 40, with three abstentions, to reconsider Millett's nomination. Several procedural votes followed. The Senate parliamentarian, speaking through Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the chamber's president pro tempore, then ruled that 60 votes are needed to cut off a filibuster and move to a final confirmation vote. Reid appealed that ruling, asking senators to decide whether it should stand.

Reid and the Democrats are going to live to regret this change. It is very possible, given the debacle that is Obamacare, that starting in 2017 they will face a GOP Senate, House and President with a serious and sweeping reform agenda. Having discarded the filibuster - long the protection given to minorities --  a GOP Senate majority could theoretically expand the the simple majority rule to all sorts of issues, including Supreme Court nominations and legislation aimed at downsizing the federal government.

Kane notes what happened the last time, when it was Republicans threateneing to end the filibuster practice:

Reid's move is a reversal of his position in 2005, when he was minority leader and fought the GOP majority's bid to change rules on a party-line vote. A bipartisan, rump caucus led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) defused that effort.

McCain's customary phrase, "My good friends across the aisle" should no longer be operative, though I have not found any comments by the senator yet on this move.

This looks to me like a sign of panic by the Democrats, anxious to do as much as possible to staff up the judiciary with left wing judges before they lose power. They may also wish to divert attention from the ongoing Obamacare crisis. What they may not understand is that they have weakened the wishy-washy wing of the GOP and strengthened its conservative wing, especially Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. Those pleading for reaching across the aisle have lost credibility.

Update from Ed Lasky:

FLASHBACK: Clinton: If President Can't Get 60 Votes For Nominee, Should Rethink Nominee  http://freebeacon.com/flashback-clinton-if-president-cant-get-60-votes-for-nominee-should-rethink-nominee/

FLASHBACK: Biden on Nuclear Option: 'It's a Fundamental Power Grab' http://freebeacon.com/flashback-biden-on-nuclear-option-its-a-fundamental-power-grab/

 

 

Harry Reid today broke 225 years of precedent in the U.S. Senate, and had his Democrat majority change Senate rules for confirmation of judges and most executive branch officials. From now on, only a simple majority will suffice, not the 60 votes formerly required. Supreme Court nominations will still be subject to filibuster, however.

Paul Kane of the Washington Post reports:

The vote to change the rule passed 52 to 48. Three Democrats - Sens. Carl Levin (Mich.), Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) - joined 45 Republicans in opposing the measure. Levin is a longtime senator who remembers well the years when Democratic filibusters blocked nominees of Republican presidents; Manchin and Pryor come from Republican-leaning states.

Infuriated by what he sees as a pattern of obstruction and delay over President Obama's nominees, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) triggered the so-called "nuclear option" by proposing a motion to reconsider the nomination of Patricia Millett, one of the judicial nominees whom Republicans recently blocked by a filibuster, to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The Senate voted 57 to 40, with three abstentions, to reconsider Millett's nomination. Several procedural votes followed. The Senate parliamentarian, speaking through Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the chamber's president pro tempore, then ruled that 60 votes are needed to cut off a filibuster and move to a final confirmation vote. Reid appealed that ruling, asking senators to decide whether it should stand.

Reid and the Democrats are going to live to regret this change. It is very possible, given the debacle that is Obamacare, that starting in 2017 they will face a GOP Senate, House and President with a serious and sweeping reform agenda. Having discarded the filibuster - long the protection given to minorities --  a GOP Senate majority could theoretically expand the the simple majority rule to all sorts of issues, including Supreme Court nominations and legislation aimed at downsizing the federal government.

Kane notes what happened the last time, when it was Republicans threateneing to end the filibuster practice:

Reid's move is a reversal of his position in 2005, when he was minority leader and fought the GOP majority's bid to change rules on a party-line vote. A bipartisan, rump caucus led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) defused that effort.

McCain's customary phrase, "My good friends across the aisle" should no longer be operative, though I have not found any comments by the senator yet on this move.

This looks to me like a sign of panic by the Democrats, anxious to do as much as possible to staff up the judiciary with left wing judges before they lose power. They may also wish to divert attention from the ongoing Obamacare crisis. What they may not understand is that they have weakened the wishy-washy wing of the GOP and strengthened its conservative wing, especially Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. Those pleading for reaching across the aisle have lost credibility.

Update from Ed Lasky:

FLASHBACK: Clinton: If President Can't Get 60 Votes For Nominee, Should Rethink Nominee  http://freebeacon.com/flashback-clinton-if-president-cant-get-60-votes-for-nominee-should-rethink-nominee/

FLASHBACK: Biden on Nuclear Option: 'It's a Fundamental Power Grab' http://freebeacon.com/flashback-biden-on-nuclear-option-its-a-fundamental-power-grab/