Senate Republicans have been holding out on a number of President Obama’s recent administrative nominees — including Gina McCarthy for Environmental Protection Agency chief, Tom Perez for head of the Department of Labor, the recess-appointed director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray, and nominees to the National Labor Relations Board among them — while they pointedly wait for the Obama administration to cough up answers for some of their more pressing queries, and Democrats are pretty vexed about the whole thing.
He’s threatened to do so before, and the issue of the stalled nominations is resulting in our esteemed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid again finding himself confronted with the question of whether or not to trigger the “nuclear option” by moving to amend Senate procedure and put some restrictions on the minority’s right to filibuster. It’s apparently gettin’ real on Capitol Hill, via Politico:
Reid has refused to answer questions on the topic even as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continues his campaign on the Senate floor to see if Reid will “keep his word” on not changing Senate rules in January — which Democrats are only too happy to turn on McConnell for promising “to work with the majority to process nominations.”
It’s still unclear whether Reid has the votes to change the rules, although the Sierra Club, Communications Workers of America and top Senate aides are confident Reid can marshal 51 members of his 54-member caucus to support at least easing the path for executive nominations such as Cabinet members.
There’s far less certainty on whether the caucus would like to tweak rules for judicial nominees as well. …
“We’ll certainly have a lot of delayed nominations up shortly, and we’ll find out if the Senate can function or not,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who along with Tom Udall of New Mexico is among the strongest advocates of a rules change. Neither has served in the Senate minority.
Several veteran senators, however, tend to take a little less readily to the idea of changing Senate procedure (the door swings both ways on minority-party rights, after all). Either way, Reid is taking the thing to caucus later this week to find out if enough Democrats really want to go there, via The Hill:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Tuesday that he planned with meet with his colleagues in two days, at which point a decision will be made on whether to change the upper chamber’s filibuster rules with the controversial tactic.
“I’m going to caucus on this Thursday, and I think Thursday by the time the day is out you’ll have a better idea of what we’re going to try and do on this,” he told reporters.
Reid is facing pressure to advance several stalled nominees by making a Senate rule change that would eliminate filibusters on nominees. Typically, a change to Senate rules requires 67 votes, but the parliamentary maneuvering of the nuclear option would require only a majority vote.
Thursday’s meeting will be Reid’s final chance to determine how badly his colleagues want to push several stalled presidential nominees…