Thursday, November 21, 2013

Harry Reid Invokes Nuclear Option: No Filibuster for you!!!

As Vito Corleone realized, sometimes you have to deal with people who simply aren't reasonable. When such people persist in their foolishness, even after you have swallowed insult after insult, turned every cheek you have, and steadfastly tried to point out to them the error of their ways by using unimpeachable logic, further discussion is useless. You just have to call in Clemenza and Luca and let them do what they do. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid finally came to a similar realization today when he oversaw a Senate alteration of the filibuster rules, due to what was widely seen as irrational Republican intransigence concerning Presidential nominations for judges or even high ranking executive positions. There is of course the chance that Republicans will return the favor if they ever regain the majority in the Senate but the Democrats could not continue to accept such behavior.

I'm not a huge Obama or Democratic Party fan (look out for upcoming post on that) but there are times and situations in which you have to, figuratively speaking, hit your opponent right in his mouth. And this was one of those times in my view. The Republicans suffer under the delusion that they can stop the President's entire agenda and/or prevent him from making his preferred appointments. As Tywin Lannister might have mused, it was time to show the Republicans a sharp lesson. Although there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth, the Republicans have a simple way to stop nominations they don't like. Win the Senate back and win the Presidency in 2016. Until then they need to learn that like him or not, President Obama remains the President and will make nominations as he sees fit. Republicans are quite free to vote against his nominations and tell everyone what bad choices they are. But since they lack the votes, they can't stop the nominations. It was also hard to avoid noticing that many of the stalled Presidential nominations were of racial minorities and white women-people who have been previously prevented from reaching judicial and executive positions of serious authority. This change ultimately might be a good thing for the Republicans as it will FORCE them to recognize that they are a minority party in the Senate and have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. If they can address those issues they can retake the Senate. Until then though, they will have to dance to the tune that Senator Reid calls.  



WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pulled the trigger Thursday, deploying a parliamentary procedure dubbed the "nuclear option" to change Senate rules to pass most executive and judicial nominees by a simple majority vote.
The Senate voted 52 to 48 for the move, with just three Democrats declining to go along with the rarely used maneuver.
From now until the Senate passes a new rule, executive branch nominees and judges nominated for all courts except the Supreme Court will be able to pass off the floor and take their seats on the bench with the approval of a simple majority of senators. They will no longer have to jump the traditional hurdle of 60 votes, which has increasingly proven a barrier to confirmation during the Obama administration.
Reid opened debate in the morning by saying that it has become "so, so very obvious" that the Senate is broken and in need of rules reform. He rolled through a series of statistics intended to demonstrate that the level of obstruction under President Barack Obama outpaced any historical precedent.
Half the nominees filibustered in the history of the United States were blocked by Republicans during the Obama administration; of 23 district court nominees filibustered in U.S. history, 20 were Obama's nominees; and even judges that have broad bipartisan support have had to wait nearly 100 days longer, on average, than President George W. Bush's nominees.
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