Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is increasingly focused on the month of July as the time to exercise the so-called “nuclear option” and revisit filibuster reform, and he has privately told top advisers that he’s all but certain to take action if the Senate GOP blocks three upcoming key nominations, a senior Senate Democratic aide familiar with his thinking tells me.
Reid has privately consulted with President Obama on the need to revisit filibuster reform, and the President has told the Majority Leader that he will support the exercising of the nuclear option if Reid opts for it, the aide says, adding that senior Democrats expect the President to publicly push for it as well. “If Senator Reid decides to do something on nominations, the president has said he’ll be there to support him,” the aide says.
Reid is eyeing a change to the rules that would do away with the 60-vote threshold on all judicial and executive branch nominations, the aide says, on the theory that this is a good way to immediately break an important logjam in Washington — without changing the rules when it comes to legislation.
“This would take away the right to filibuster on nominations,” the aide says. “All executive branch and judicial nominations would be subject to majority votes.
Why write about this in May? Well, for no reason at all Reid forced a confirmation vote on a nomination a few days sooner that was going to pass. As Republican leader McConnell said yesterday “regarding what he termed a ‘culture of intimidation’ that exists in the Executive Branch and among Senate Democrats and the threat to use the nuclear option if they don’t get their way every time:”
“Recently, we’ve seen troubling signs that there are some in the Executive Branch who would use the power of the federal government to intimidate political opponents.
. . . “It all points to a culture of political intimidation. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that the culture of intimidation is simply confined to the Executive Branch.
. . . “Moreover, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee just voted unanimously to support the President’s current nomination to the D.C. Circuit. And the Senate Republican Conference agreed yesterday to hold an up and down vote on his nomination, which has only been on the Executive Calendar since Monday, to occur after the Memorial Day Recess. That way, Members who do not serve on the Judiciary Committee could have a week to evaluate this important nomination. Instead, the Majority Leader chose to jam the Minority—he rejected our offer for an up or down vote and filed cloture on the nomination just one day after it appeared on the Executive Calendar.
. . . “So these continued threats to use the nuclear option point to the Majority’s own culture of intimidation here in the Senate. Their view is that you had better confirm the people we want, when we want them, or we’ll break the rules of the Senate to change the rules so you can’t stop us. So much for respecting the rights of the minority. So much for a meaningful application of Advice and Consent.
The real reason Senate Reid is doing this is he does not like the fact the courts are standing up to the Administration and Democrats.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn’t like the direction the federal judiciary is heading, so he has come up with a variant of court-packing to achieve his results. He took the Senate floor Wednesday to defend the use of the “nuclear option” to bypass Senate rules and force through President Obama’s nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
. . . The three judges accused of havoc-wreaking merely made the point, obvious to English-speakers everywhere, that the president is obliged to wait for a recess before he can make a recess appointment. Mr. Obama didn’t want to wait. He installed NLRB members in January 2012 while the Senate was in pro forma session. The White House was very much aware the radical appointee wouldn’t get past a Republican filibuster. Rather than find appropriate choices, the president bypassed the constitutional process.
There was nothing extraordinary in the D.C. Circuit’s reasoning that the Constitution must be followed. Last week, a federal appeals court in Philadelphia also ruled against Mr. Obama’s NLRB “recess” appointments on the same grounds.
Mr. Reid’s rant disturbed the peace of the Senate amid debate over how quickly to proceed with the nomination of Deputy Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan to the 11-member D.C. appeals court, which currently has four vacancies. Mr. Reid’s claim that the vacancies must be filled at once to restore ideological “balance” to the court is patently false, given that four of its seven judges are appointees of Republican presidents and three were appointed by Democrats. Four more liberal judges would likely guarantee a rubber stamp for Mr. Obama’s agenda. Some “balance.”
Democrats led by President Obama and Senator Reid are determine to deny free speech and intimidate their opponents. It should not be just Republicans but everyone who should be concerned about this abuse of power.