Harry Reid: How’s about we go a little nuclear up in this Senate?

posted at 4:41 pm on November 7, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

I hate to foist him upon you in your time of pain, but alas, one of the biggest winners last night was— against all odds— that Sullen Senate Leader, that Dour Dynamo, Sen. Harrrrrry Reeeeeid! In his press conference today he said he wants to change Senate rules to limit minority rights, but not quite go full nuclear by eliminating the filibuster. More on that in a second.

With late-breaking North Dakota now called an upset for Sen.-elect Heidi Heitkamp (who takes the prize for alliterative name most likely to be used in a children’s book designed to teach children about positive female role models in positions of power) and Nevada for Sen. Dean Heller, Senate Democrats have netted two additional members in their caucus. This, in a year when Democrats were defending 23 seats to Republicans’ 10. Perhaps in the soul-searching Republicans do, they should learn never to write a budget because that seems to work like a charm. I kid. Sort of.

There will now be a record number of women in the Senate — one of them Sen.-elect Deb Fischer of Nebraska who fended off former Sen. Bob Kerrey handily— and the body’s first openly gay senator in Sen.-elect Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

Fred Barnes, who followed the Senate races closely, offers a succinct rundown of his take on the problems with 2012′s class of candidates:

What’s their problem? In Senate races, it’s bad candidates: old hacks (Wisconsin), young hacks (Florida), youngsters (Ohio), Tea Party types who can’t talk about abortion sensibly (Missouri, Indiana), retreads (Virginia), lousy campaigners (North Dakota) and Washington veterans (Michigan). Losers all.

And those are just the Senate contests decided yesterday. In 2010, it was similar. Republicans threw away two of their best chances to gain seats, choosing pathetically incapable candidates in Nevada and Delaware. It’s as if they have a political death wish.

I’d probably be more charitable to some of them, but the fact remains that, while the NRCC provided a bright spot on a dark night, the NRSC, not so much. Hence, this brewing fight.

And, now Sen. Reid signals his moves:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pledged on Wednesday to change the rules of the Senate so that the minority party has fewer tools to obstruct legislative business.

In his first post-election press conference, the Nevada Democrat said he wouldn’t go so far as to eliminate the filibuster, which requires 60 votes for the chamber to enter and exit the amendment and debate process. But in remarks meant to preview a more combative approach during the next session, he warned Republicans that obstructionism as a tactic won’t be tolerated — or as technically feasible.

“I want to work together, but I also want everyone to also understand, you cannot push us around. We want to work together,” Reid said.

“I do” have plans to change the Senate rules, he added. “I have said so publicly and I continue to feel that way … I think the rules have been abused, and we are going to work to change them. We will not do away with the filibuster, but we will make the senate a more meaningful place. We are going to make it so we can get things done.”

A year and a half ago, when Reid was toying with this idea, I thought it as an unwise gamble given Republican likelihood to take the reins in 2012. Reid takes a similar gamble, and risks some stultifying fights over parliamentary rules for rule-changing in the Senate, if he changes the rules this time around, but given how this year turned out, the cost-benefit analysis may change. Gains for Democrats may be tough in ’14 because Republicans will be defending seats in the deep-red South.

Reid also named some of his priorities for the new Senate, all while putting up his rhetorical dukes. Raising taxes, raising the debt ceiling, immigration reform:

“I’ve been leaning to the right far too much,” he said.

Reid used his podium to pick on what he considers the Republican sins of the past two years.

“I repeat, to have the leader of the Republicans in the Senate say his No. 1 goal is to defeat Obama, and that’s how we legislated out there for two years,” Reid said.

He also half-dared Republicans to try objecting when the country next has to raise the debt ceiling, as it soon will. “If it has to be raised, we’ll raise it,” he said.

But he would make no similarly hard-and-fast promises about the timeline for other legislation, nor would he say what the country could expect to see as a first order of business in the new Congress — past the necessity of addressing the fiscal cliff.

Immigration reform? “It’s very, very high on my list,” Reid said, not committing to a timeline. “The only thing we need to get immigration reform done is a few Republican votes.”

Mercifully, though it made it into the president’s victory speech Tuesday, Reid seems to recognize that climate change legislation is a tough one, saying “I hope we can address it.” Although, knowing the track record of President Obama, this will be priority No. 1 since it’d impose expensive solutions that don’t work on people who don’t want them and who also don’t prioritize the issue.

But even some Democratic Senators are wary of cutting back on minority rights in the Senate, including Sen. Harry Reid circa 2005:

Democrats in the Senate may be in the minority, but we represent millions of American citizens. The nuclear option would deny these Americans their rightful voice in the governance of the nation. Moreover, we will not always be in the minority. The nuclear option would trample on the rights of whichever group of Americans — Republicans or Democrats — happen to be represented by the Senate minority at any given time.

Listen to the words of two of our great Senate Leaders: Former Republican Leader Howard Baker wrote in 1993 that limiting the right to extended debate “would topple one of the pillars of American Democracy: the protection of minority rights from majority rule. The Senate is the only body in the federal government where these minority rights are fully and specifically protected.” And half a century earlier, Democratic Leader and later President Lyndon Johnson said: “In this country, a majority may govern but it does not rule. The genius of our constitutional and representative government is the multitude of safeguards provided to protect minority interests.”

The Senate conducts most of its business by cooperation and consent. The minority provides that consent with the expectation that the courtesies it extends to the majority will be met with respect for minority rights. And no Senate right is more fundamental than the right to debate. Should the majority choose to break the rules that give us that right, the majority should not expect to receive cooperation from the minority in the conduct of Senate business.

Of course Democrats would never block legislation vital to our troops or other national security interests, and we will help ensure that critical government services continue to function for the American people. Beyond that very limited scope, however, we will be reluctant to enter into any consent agreement that facilitates Senate activities, even on routine matters. Just this year we passed the class action and bankruptcy bills under procedures negotiated in good faith between the majority and the minority. We would decline to provide such cooperation in the future if you implement the nuclear option.

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…and Nevada for Sen. Dean Heller, Senate Democrats have netted two additional members in their caucus.

isn’t Heller on our side?

DanMan on November 7, 2012 at 6:05 PM

Stalin’s was more than right, our communists leaders here did well by adopting pretty much everything from the Soviets. Everything.

Pretty much. As far as challenging election results in states, the GOP will get no help from a state AG that is democrat. That has been a long term dem goal, financed by a SOROS organization, to see to it that dems control state AG offices to obstruct and ignore GOP challenges to election results favoring dem candidates.

hawkeye54 on November 7, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Raising the debt ceiling too?

Well sure, why not, if you’re going to go to war you might as well invade Russia.

Bishop on November 7, 2012 at 6:21 PM

If Harry Reid is not the most hated man in America, he should be promoted to that position forthwith.

Humphrey on November 7, 2012 at 6:22 PM

Tucker Carlson observed that Pelosi’s political career is basically over, which is perhaps the cheeriest outcome of yesterday’s election. The House Dems are reportedly not happy with her.

But Reid is here to stay and is poisonous, a man without principles or conscience.

What he did on the floor of the Senate when he charged Romney with tax evasion was beyond the pale. He has immunity to throw around completely unfounded accusations? Now that the election is over, I wish Romney would sue him for slander.

Just for a little “revenge.”

Meredith on November 7, 2012 at 6:25 PM

i believe you told me once…to paraphrase….you would hate to see the condition this country was in if Sarah Palin was the nominee.

forgetting Sarah, who else would stand up for us?

renalin on November 7, 2012 at 5:49 PM

Allen West. Newt. Mike Pence. Jim DeMint. Rand Paul (maybe).

Short list, I know of no others at this time.

Doom.

riddick on November 7, 2012 at 6:26 PM

Harry Reid is a Beyonce

PappyD61 on November 7, 2012 at 6:36 PM

riddick on November 7, 2012 at 6:26 PM

I like Liz Cheney also.

Cindy Munford on November 7, 2012 at 6:37 PM

Harry Reid is a joke. Obstructionism? How about all the bills passed by the House, still sitting on Harry’s desk? How about the lack of a budget from the Senate for the last 3 years?

GarandFan on November 7, 2012 at 5:24 PM

Exactly. And why doesn’t the MSM ask him about that? (Rhetorical question, btw.)

KS Rex on November 7, 2012 at 6:38 PM

I’m sick of Harry Reed and all the enablers of the tyranny of the takers. It is high time we stopped treating them as fellow Americans, and treat them as what they are,THE ENEMY! I’m not counting on the GOP to have the stones to stand up and fight the fight that must happen if we intend to preserve our liberty and freedom. There needs to be another alternative, and if it does not present itself quickly, it will most certainly when we go over the edge.

djtnt on November 7, 2012 at 6:53 PM

Senile curmudgeons must always be taken with a dose of salt …

… especially the clueless ones whose middle name should be Vile.

hillbillyjim on November 7, 2012 at 6:57 PM

canopfor on November 7, 2012 at 6:01 PM

I hear you..

Dire Straits on November 7, 2012 at 7:02 PM

Oh look, the Crybaby is gonna be more of a cry baby.

Shocking!

A Axe on November 7, 2012 at 7:02 PM

Cindy Munford on November 7, 2012 at 6:01 PM

i understood you 100%. your words made an impact on me. i think we are at that moment in history. its too late no doubt. but she’s the only one that has a chance to reverse the tide.

renalin on November 7, 2012 at 7:04 PM

canopfor on November 7, 2012 at 6:01 PM

I hear you..

Dire Straits on November 7, 2012 at 7:02 PM

Dire Straits:—:0

canopfor on November 7, 2012 at 7:06 PM

renalin on November 7, 2012 at 7:04 PM

We might be there but I don’t think the public is. As I said above, I like Liz Cheney but right now I can’t get past the fact that we reelected that idiot.

Cindy Munford on November 7, 2012 at 7:19 PM

we they reelected that idiot.

Cindy Munford on November 7, 2012 at 7:19 PM

Needed fixing. I had no part in it and I am certain that you didn’t either.

manyears on November 7, 2012 at 7:43 PM

We are going to make it so we can get things done.

This is where the Republicans say Harry can have it his way. Every vote in the Senate passes 50 to 47 with not one GOP voting for. 4 years of not one GOP vote for the Obama agenda. It will take courage but we’ve got to let the Dems crash the country and we’ll pick up the pieces and fix it.

TulsAmerican on November 7, 2012 at 8:31 PM

I DESPISE HARRY REID WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING.

disa on November 7, 2012 at 8:44 PM

All Harry needs to execute his plan to get the House on board with it. He may end or limit the Senate filibuster, but he still has to get the bill through the House.

Oh good lord…what am I saying…..

BobMbx on November 7, 2012 at 9:04 PM

All Harry needs to execute his plan to get the House on board with it. He may end or limit the Senate filibuster, but he still has to get the bill through the House.

Oh good lord…what am I saying…..

BobMbx on November 7, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Harry can write all the bills he wants and wave them around while he’s frothing at the mouth but nothing changes the fact that the House is going to blue-slip every piece of crap he sends them.

Wendya on November 7, 2012 at 9:49 PM

Harry can write all the bills he wants and wave them around while he’s frothing at the mouth but nothing changes the fact that the House is going to blue-slip every piece of crap he sends them.

Wendya on November 7, 2012 at 9:49 PM

Yeah, this Boehner fella is gonna watch out for us.

Lets just relax and enjoy the rape. Resisting only makes it worse.

BobMbx on November 7, 2012 at 10:03 PM

manyears on November 7, 2012 at 7:43 PM

Good catch!

Cindy Munford on November 7, 2012 at 10:09 PM

I remember my college professors were absolutely apoplectic over the assault on the foundation of the Republic when the GOP was batting around ending the filibusters for judicial nominees. Kos, too.

Good times, good times.

Did I mention how stupid this would, given that the Democrats will almost certainly not be the next party to benefit from it? Is Reid just not happy unless he’s scowling as he murdering a kitten? Or is this more like his pederast-ing?

HitNRun on November 7, 2012 at 10:16 PM

One more supermajority for the Democrats and this country is finished.

Literally.

WisCon on November 7, 2012 at 11:21 PM

One more supermajority for the Democrats and this country is finished.

Literally.

WisCon on November 7, 2012 at 11:21 PM

The country is finished now!

johnny reb on November 8, 2012 at 12:24 PM

Easier to supress the rights of the minority than to pass a budget.

georgeofthedesert on November 8, 2012 at 10:05 PM

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