NBC: McCain moving to head off filibuster change

posted at 10:06 am on July 15, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

In 2005, then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist threatened to end the filibuster for judicial appointments by forcing a mid-session rule change on a majority vote, an act that would have ended two centuries of precedent.  Before he could act, though, the Gang of 14 arose, led by Republican John McCain, to preserve the senatorial tradition, brokering a deal that left conservatives fuming by depriving Frist of his partisan majority.  Eight years later, with Harry Reid threatening to take the same action on executive-branch appointments, where is that Old Gang of Ours?  According to NBC, at least McCain might be riding to the fight:

Back in 2005, then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) took the Senate to the brink, threatening to change the filibuster rules to clear some of George W. Bush’s controversial judicial nominees. The move paid off: Cooler heads prevailed, Democrats and Republicans agreed on a compromise, and many — but not all — of those judicial nominees are now serving on the courts. Eight years later, with a different party in control of the Senate and White House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is hoping to get a similar result by threatening the “nuclear option” to change the filibuster rules for only executive-branch appointments. The logic: This kind of threat is the only way to get some of President Obama’s appointees through the Senate, including the previously blocked picks to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board (who are now serving as recess appointments). NBC’s Kasie Hunt reports that Sen. John McCain — like he did in 2005 — is trying to broker a deal.

We got an e-mail over the weekend asking us about the Gang of 14 and wondering why the Democrats in that group weren’t standing up to Harry Reid in the way that Republicans stood up to Bill Frist.  The short answer is that most of them aren’t standing in the Senate now anyway, and a couple of them are no longer with us at all.  Both Robert Byrd and Daniel Inouye have passed away in the intervening eight years, and Joe Lieberman, Ken Salazar, and Ben Nelson have left.

That only leaves Mary Landrieu (LA) and Mark Pryor (AR) from the previous Gang of 14 still in the Senate, but the question is good for them too.  Both face tough re-election efforts in red states next year; they’re already on the endangered-incumbents list even without this fight.  It’s a no-brainer that their Republican challengers will use Reid’s power grab against them if it succeeds.  Reid, however, has four votes to spare (five if Biden votes in a 50/50 split).  I’d expect Reid to let them vote against the rule change if it comes down to that.

But will it?  Chris Cillizza isn’t sure:

Of course, part of the way to win in politics (like poker) is to bluff so convincingly that the other guy (or gal) falls for it — even though you really never were willing to go all the way in. So, is Reid bluffing?

No, according to one Reid insider. “In his heart, he’s an institutionalist, but his caucus — and he — have reached a tipping point on executive nominees,” the source explained. “If no deal, he’ll do it.”

The final chance for a deal will come Monday night when the full Senate gathers in the Old Senate Chamber in hopes of hashing one out.

I think this has gone beyond bluff.  Reid got ripped by his allies for bailing out of filibuster “reform” at the beginning of the session. Raising it now without pulling the trigger — or at least getting a great deal in its place — will make him look too weak.  The caucus is driving the conflict, not Reid, so unless the caucus gets cold feet (and it may after the Schweitzer announcement this weekend), I’d bet this isn’t a bluff.

As Erika noted yesterday, all of this is to protect the illegally-recess-appointed Richard Cordray and the NLRB commissioners, and the regulations both have promulgated.  Any deal that doesn’t salvage those appointments and negate the appellate courts’ actions will fail to move Reid, but that doesn’t mean he’ll end up winning in the long run.  After a Republican President starts filling up the executive branch with conservatives and Senate Democrats in a minority have no way to stop him or her, the folly of this act will finally dawn on them.  That may take a while, but it won’t take forever, no matter what the Democrats of today may hope.


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This man makes me puke.

Don L on July 15, 2013 at 10:13 AM

McCain, yup–Reid, yup.

Don L on July 15, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Only now, John, at the end, do you learn the true power of their farce.

WryTrvllr on July 15, 2013 at 10:16 AM

It’s a no-brainer that their Republican challengers will use Reid’s power grab against them if it succeeds.

I say the GOP should essentially shut the Senate down with holds and other procedural moves if the demonrats decide to move forward on this. I do not want to see some RINO like Rubio out there explaining that this isn’t all that bad since it only involves executive appointments. The Senate minority should not be brokering away the only real leverage it has.

Happy Nomad on July 15, 2013 at 10:19 AM

NBC? Get back to us when someone credible reports on it.

Kohath on July 15, 2013 at 10:19 AM

I believe Carl Levin is solidly OPPOSED to the rule change. So that’s one less vote for Reid.

matthew8787 on July 15, 2013 at 10:20 AM

I say the GOP should essentially shut the Senate down with holds and other procedural moves if the demonrats decide to move forward on this.

The problem is that the GOP can threaten anything they want, but over time the anger will dissipate, the MSM will blame the GOP for inaction, and the GOP will throw in the towel.

Needs to be stopped now. Call every GOP and Dem senate office.

matthew8787 on July 15, 2013 at 10:23 AM

Hans von Spakovsky has an excellent piece on this at NRO. Apparently it is part of a deal between congressional Democrats and their big-money union, environmentalist, and community organizer-backers:

National Review Online

Athanasius on July 15, 2013 at 10:27 AM

McCain has his fingers into everything except the things that effect the future of the Republic . . . on those issues he panders and equivocates.

rplat on July 15, 2013 at 10:28 AM

NBC? Get back to us when someone credible reports on it.

Kohath on July 15, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Agreed. Has it been confirmed by a news source yet? Wasn’t NBC also the ones responsible for the Romney WaWa’s editing?

Flange on July 15, 2013 at 10:30 AM

After a Republican President starts filling up the executive branch with conservatives

This will never happen again. War on Minorities. War on Women. War on Gays. War on _____.

faraway on July 15, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Harry Ried and John McCain have both created the problems we’re facing so I don’t expect either one to solve anything. They’ve both been there too long. Obama has loaded the government so full of sixties radicals and far left cronies in every dept and agency it will take a generation or more to clean them all out. Thats if the right has the cojones to even do it. Pretty much sick of the whole lot of them.

ldbgcoleman on July 15, 2013 at 10:33 AM

This weekend, I was at a wedding where I talked to some people from Arizona. They gave a pretty good case for moving there.

Then I thought about the chance to vote John McCain out of office.

Really gotta check Phoenix housing prices…

MadisonConservative on July 15, 2013 at 10:33 AM

Kabuki is the new hotness

workingclass artist on July 15, 2013 at 10:36 AM

*********Live Feed ***************************

Live video: Sen. Harry Reid expected to address Senate gridlock at Center for American Progress Action Fund – @NBCNews

34 secs ago from http://www.nbcnews.com by editor
===============================================

http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbcnews.com/52478576

canopfor on July 15, 2013 at 10:36 AM

A broken clock is right twice a day.

22044 on July 15, 2013 at 10:37 AM

I believe Carl Levin is solidly OPPOSED to the rule change. So that’s one less vote for Reid.

matthew8787 on July 15, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Isn’t Levin retiring? He might be worried that the GOP takes over in 2015.

22044 on July 15, 2013 at 10:38 AM

The Party of Unintended Consequences validating its namesake every day.

hillsoftx on July 15, 2013 at 10:44 AM

They all died with their boots on. But I suppose he could round up anuther posse.

Red Creek on July 15, 2013 at 10:44 AM

Nevada should be ashamed.

losarkos on July 15, 2013 at 10:48 AM

This weekend, I was at a wedding where I talked to some people from Arizona. They gave a pretty good case for moving there.
Then I thought about the chance to vote John McCain out of office.
Really gotta check Phoenix housing prices…

Good luck. He will tack far right during primary season just like he did last time. The only way he will be removed is either voluntarily or when he dies of old age and assumes room temp. Either way I can hardly wait. He is a festering boil on the a** of AZ. Navy POW or not, he’s a punk. AND we still have to deal with Flake.

wsucoug on July 15, 2013 at 10:52 AM

The fingerprints of Mr. Obama are all over this. He notoriously has no use for precedent, tradition or apparently the law, and therefore drives roughshod over democratic process with his pure political machine.

Ultimately- what’s the goal here? I submit it is to relegate Mr. Obama’s illegal appointments to another “so-what” response from the administration by having them confirmed.

Keep in mind that no compromise will come without the confirmation of those appointees. It will be a key negotiating point and one on which the feckless Republicans will most certainly yield.

Mr. Reid is nothing more than a dupe who serves at the hand of Mr. Obama. He’s done nothing without explicit White House coordination and approval. Nothing.

We should never yield on these appointments. The opposition is firmly grounded in a righteous belief these appointees are not only unqualified, but destined to harm the American peoples interest.

For once, Republicans are on the right side of an argument. But once again, in rushes John McCain to foolishly ruin the day.

Marcus Traianus on July 15, 2013 at 10:55 AM

What’s the lesson here?
When you reach across the aisle,
You get nothing back.

I hope all of the Republican Senators who signed on to the Schumer/Rubio amnesty bill think long an hard before makng any more stupid mistakes like that. When the Democrats are acting nice and holding out a Hand of Bipartisanship, the other hand is fumbling behind them, looking for a large rock.

Haiku Guy on July 15, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Nevada should be ashamed.

Many are.

CW20 on July 15, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Marcus Traianus on July 15, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Agreed. It seems clear as day to me that the only reason this is being done is to get the NLRB nominees in place “legally” so that when Obama loses on his illegal appointment, they can say “so-what”.

This is only being done to protect Obama. When the NLRB recess appointments are ultimately declared unconstitutional at the SC, it will be a devastating blow to Obama. He NEEDS to get these guys in legally in order to save face and not have all their decisions overturned.

weaselyone on July 15, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Yeah, do you actually think a Republican would fill up anything with conservatives. Shoot, Republicans hate conservatives as much as Democrats.

Cindy Munford on July 15, 2013 at 11:16 AM

What those who push the “You’ll have to live with these changes someday” don’t realize is the advantage to be gained at the moment the rules are changed.

In the future, it all “washes out” – both sides will operate with the knowledge that “These are the rules until they’re changed” and they’ll plan accordingly, so there’s no long term advantage for either party.

It’s in the short term, when something that couldn’t be done before now can, that advantage is gained.

BD57 on July 15, 2013 at 11:18 AM

OT

Steve King was xcellent…

Rep. Steve King: ‘The President is Already Refusing to Enforce Existing Immigration Laws’

http://cnsnews.com/video/national/rep-steve-king-president-already-refusing-enforce-existing-immigration-laws

workingclass artist on July 15, 2013 at 11:29 AM

This weekend, I was at a wedding where I talked to some people from Arizona. They gave a pretty good case for moving there.

Then I thought about the chance to vote John McCain out of office.

Really gotta check Phoenix housing prices…

MadisonConservative on July 15, 2013 at 10:33 AM

Good luck. He will tack far right during primary season just like he did last time. The only way he will be removed is either voluntarily or when he dies of old age and assumes room temp. Either way I can hardly wait. He is a festering boil on the a** of AZ. Navy POW or not, he’s a punk. AND we still have to deal with Flake.

wsucoug on July 15, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Yep. Johnny Mac and Miss Lucy both have the quick tack to the right for election purposes down pat.

slickwillie2001 on July 15, 2013 at 11:43 AM

workingclass artist on July 15, 2013 at 11:29 AM

It’s not just Obama, it’s all of them. What they don’t refuse to enforce, Congress just defunds. They all suck. Now Obama has granted himself a retroactive line item veto on his own dang bill. I think it is safe to say that we’ve lost control and most of it is due to the sheer size and scope of the federal government.

Cindy Munford on July 15, 2013 at 12:01 PM

This will never happen again. War on Minorities. War on Women. War on Gays. War on _____.

faraway on July 15, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Maybe we can trick them with a “war on conservatives.” They aren’t very bright and may go with it.

JR on July 15, 2013 at 1:16 PM

As Erika noted yesterday, all of this is to protect the illegally-recess-appointed Richard Cordray and the NLRB commissioners, and the regulations both have promulgated. Any deal that doesn’t salvage those appointments and negate the appellate courts’ actions will fail to move Reid, but that doesn’t mean he’ll end up winning in the long run. After a Republican President starts filling up the executive branch with conservatives and Senate Democrats in a minority have no way to stop him or her, the folly of this act will finally dawn on them. That may take a while, but it won’t take forever, no matter what the Democrats of today may hope.

If the rules start to bite them in a Republican administration, then they’ll just change the rules again. Failing that, they’ll use the media to try to turn it into a scandal if a Republican uses their own rules against them.

I hope there’s no deal. Let Obama’s illegal appointments fail, then let them change the rules if they dare. The shoe will be on the other foot soon enough. And I think they know it.

It’s a bluff.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 15, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Reid, however, has four votes to spare (five if Biden votes in a 50/50 split).

Not true, Ed. Right now there are only 54 Democrats in the Senate, so he can only spare 4 votes, max. (NJ flipped, and won’t flip back until special election later this year.)

So the question is: are the 5 Senate Democrats smart enough to recognize that the current fix is caused by the way they filibustered Bush nominees, and they’re going to be screwed the next time the Republicans are in the majority if they pull this now?

Greg Q on July 15, 2013 at 4:54 PM

After a Republican President starts filling up the executive branch with conservatives and Senate Democrats in a minority have no way to stop him or her, the folly of this act will finally dawn on them. That may take a while, but it won’t take forever, no matter what the Democrats of today may hope.

There are two reasons the Democrats don’t care about this.

One, they hope that will be somebody else’s problem. This is likely true. The Democratic caucus is OLD.

Two, they know that even when it happens, and even if they’re still around, the media will ruthlessly attack the Republican President for it, and make no mention of what happened earlier. The Democrats will whine and moan on TV and low information voters will eat it up.

Chris of Rights on July 16, 2013 at 11:02 AM