Thursday, July 11, 2013

Reid threatens to go nuclear

Yes I know we've heard this all before, but this time Harry Reid sounds serious on filibuster reform.
After a tense exchange on the floor with his Republican counterpart, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, planned to recommend to his fellow Democrats at a private lunch meeting that they should vote to take the exceptional step of barring the minority party from filibustering presidential appointees.

The step that Mr. Reid will endorse, which drew strong objections from Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, would not affect filibusters of legislation or judicial nominees. But it would prevent Republicans from being able to require a supermajority of 60 votes for the confirmation of people the president appoints to cabinet level posts or other executive-branch positions.
Greg Sargent has the details on the nuclear trigger:
“We’re going to file cloture on a bunch of nominations, and those votes will occur next week when we schedule them,” Reid said, adding later that if no movement occurred on them, “we know what’s going to happen.”

According to a senior Senate Democratic aide, this means that Reid will file cloture on the following nominations today: Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Gina McCarthy as head of the Environmental Protection Agency; Obama’s picks to the National Labor Relations Board; and possibly Thomas Perez as Labor Secretary.
These are the appointments the GOPers most want to block in order to subvert the will of the majority. So a real test of the laughable "gentlemen's agreement" Reid and McConnell made at the beginning of the session. Remains to be seen if any of the old geezers have the guts to see it through. As the NYT reports, "Senators in both parties also say they fear it could irrevocably change the nature of the Senate."

One could argue we're long overdue for an irrevocable change in that moribund body.

Predictably, Reid's threat left McConnell spitting out his own threats of revenge on the floor, should the tables be turned in the future. (Warning HuffPo link.) As if that's not exactly what Republicans would do anyway if they ever regain the majority, regardless of whether Reid screws up the courage to make a bold move now while there's still time to pass some useful legislation.

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