Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Nuclear Option is Averted and Key Concessions Granted by Senate Democrats

Today, Senate Republicans prevented Harry Reid from confirming two illegal appointees to the National Labor Relations Board. Additionally, the Republicans helped prevent the Nuclear Option from being employed in the Senate. It is admirable that Senate Republicans got President Obama to remove the two illegal appointees and saved the Senate from becoming like the House by eliminating the filibuster for Executive Branch appointees. If this crisis had not been averted it would have been a slippery slope in the Senate and the voices of the minority party might have been permanently silenced when confirming nominees.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in January ruled that recess appointments made by President Obama to the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutional. The court found that the Senate was not actually in recess when Obama appointed three members to the board.

"[T]he President made his three appointments to the Board on January 4, 2012, after Congress began a new session on January 3 and while that new session continued," the court wrote in its decision. "Considering the text, history, and structure of the Constitution, these appointments were invalid from their inception."

At least one senior Democratic senator opposed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's planned effort to change Senate rules to make it easier to approve executive branch nominees.
"I cannot support this," Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., told reporters at a breakfast roundtable hosted by The Christian Science Monitor. Levin, who is retiring, is the third most senior Democrat and the fifth most senior senator serving in the chamber.

But he said that he could not support changing the Senate rules with a simple majority vote which Reid, D-Nevada, intends to do instead of the two-thirds majority that many senators believe is required.

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