Reid prepping new nuclear option on filibuster

posted at 10:01 am on November 20, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

This hardly seems an opportune moment for Senate Democrats to strengthen the hand of the majority in dealing with presidential appointments and potentially for legislation.  After all, they’re tied to a President whose polling numbers are diving into George W. Bush territory as we speak, and to a major piece of legislation that is growing more unpopular even faster than Barack Obama.  A year from now, when the ObamaCare mandates hit the employer-based group insurance market as it’s hit the individual market this year, Democrats may end up looking at a total wipeout in the midterm elections.

But hey, at least filibuster reform gives Harry Reid a rallying cry while under siege:

Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, is prepared to move forward with a vote that could severely limit the minority party’s ability to filibuster presidential nominees, possibly as early as this week, Democrats said Tuesday.

Exasperated with the refusal of Senate Republicans to confirm many of President Obama’s nominees, Mr. Reid has been speaking individually with members of his caucus to gauge whether there is enough support to change filibuster rules.

Given how much deference senators have traditionally shown to the rules and procedures of the institution — many of them in place since the 18th century — any modifications are a serious undertaking.

But among Democrats there is a strong consensus that Republicans have gone too far in their latest attempt to block White House appointments, by denying Mr. Obama any more judges for what is considered the most important appeals court in the country despite three vacancies.

On Monday, they denied him his third pick in less than a month to the court, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. If Mr. Reid determines he has the support, he could schedule a vote before Friday, an aide who has spoken with him directly said Tuesday.

Republicans blocked the nominee in part because Obama seems curiously focused on an appellate court where vacancies aren’t a problem, as opposed to other parts of the federal judiciary where they are.  Obama wants to pack the DC court because it’s the most significant on federal regulatory policy, where Obama has lost a few battles over the last four-plus years even though the court is split evenly at the moment between Republican and Democratic appointees.  Reid wants to push through Obama’s appointments for the same reason, but even more, he needs to distract his caucus from the disaster unfolding at HHS with the ObamaCare law they shoved through Congress over the objections of Republicans, thanks in part to a clever method of avoiding the same filibuster Reid now wants to weaken.

On the other hand, there is a serious question about the proper consideration of presidential appointments.  Elections have consequences, and one of those is the ability to appoint judges and especially term-limited political appointments within the executive.  The Senate has long become a sandbox of tit-for-tat obstructionism that has kept presidents of both parties from exercising a legitimate power of their office. In part, this fight takes place because of the stakes involved after a long era of judicial activism has encroached on legislative power, but the solution to that won’t be in another long era of obstructionism, or at least not if we want to have an effective exercise of legitimate power conferred by elections.

David Harsanyi argues that Republicans should not just call Reid’s bluff, but go farther:

So the question is: would Reid really going to blow up the Senate for some D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals judges? It seems improbable. But if he does, the GOP, should they ever return to power, will have the justification it needs to undo Obamacare – or pretty much anything they please – with their own majority. If the filibuster is neither sacred nor a check on power, there is no reason for legislation or cabinet nominees to be immune from the up-or-down vote. It’s going to mean a lot less stability in DC, a lot more seesawing legislation, and more severe partisanship than anyone in the Senate could possibly desire.

Or, perhaps Reid is is so certain that the GOP will capitulate, he feels comfortable issuing ultimatums he knows he’ll never have to follow through on. Well, if Republicans surrender each time Reid threatens them, they have effectively rendered the filibuster useless. They’d be better off checking and taking a look at Reid’s hand. Because as much as some of us believe that the filibuster is an important tool in a healthy Republic, unilateral disarmament in politics only leads to disaster.

I’d prefer that we look for a better use of the filibuster when it comes to appointments, and get rid of the bad blood that’s been around since the Robert Bork and John Tower confirmation hearings.  That would take some real statesmanship on both sides of the aisle rather than threats and see-sawing obstructionism, but I doubt we’ll see that from Democrats while they sink under the weight of ObamaCare.


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I seem to remember something about ‘the rights of the minority’ and the evils of the Nuclear Option when the Dems were in the minority blocking dozens if Bush’s appointees.

neuquenguy on November 20, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Ted Cruz should filibuster Reids filibuster buster.

redguy on November 20, 2013 at 10:03 AM

This is an attempt to cram amnesty through. Harry Reid is a traitor and should be treated as such.

Flange on November 20, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Desperation to change the news cycle. That’s all this is.

MTF on November 20, 2013 at 10:08 AM

I’d prefer that we look for a better use of the filibuster when it comes to appointments, and get rid of the bad blood that’s been around since the Robert Bork and John Tower confirmation hearings.

I’ve actually changed my opinion on this over the last few months and am inclined to agree with Ed.

I’m not a big fan of the current filibuster rules for anything, but if there’s one area where I do think they work correctly and serve a legitimate purpose, it’s on judicial appointments.

Look, the judiciary is partisan enough as it is. If you allow the tyranny of the majority to ram through whatever partisan judges they want, it’s only going to get more so, and judicial decisions will continue to make less and less sense to half the country.

Requiring that judicial appointments pass a 60 vote threshold means that Presidents of both parties have to submit qualified judges, and not complete partisan hacks.

Obviously, it doesn’t work like that 100% of the time, but it’s the best system we’re likely to get if we want to ensure we have a judiciary that’s remotely useful.

Chris of Rights on November 20, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Desperation to change the news cycle. That’s all this is.

MTF on November 20, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Yep don’t let him

gophergirl on November 20, 2013 at 10:10 AM

What does he need it for? It’s not like there would be Senate Republican opposition to a “let’s pass it to see what’s in it” immigration bill.

oldroy on November 20, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Elections have consequences,

Fortunately, one of them is not that your political opposition is completely hamstrung.

Gee whiz Ed.

Akzed on November 20, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Desperation to change the news cycle. That’s all this is.

MTF on November 20, 2013 at 10:08 AM

No, this is trying to prime the pump for a bunch of stuff including amnesty before the 2014 elections.

I say this because nobody outside Congress is going to get passionate about the rules for a filibuster.

Happy Nomad on November 20, 2013 at 10:12 AM

That would take some real statesmanship on both sides of the aisle rather than threats and see-sawing obstructionism, but I doubt we’ll see that from Democrats while they sink under the weight of ObamaCare.

Won’t happen as long as Harry Reid is majority leader. I get that Dear Liar hates America and wants us to fail, just didn’t realize Dingy Harry had the same outlook.

rbj on November 20, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Ted Cruz should filibuster Reids filibuster buster.

redguy on November 20, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Rand Paul: “It looked like I participated in the filibuster filibuster, but I really didn’t and thought it was stupid.”

oldroy on November 20, 2013 at 10:13 AM

This is an attempt to cram amnesty through. Harry Reid is a traitor and should be treated as such.

Flange on November 20, 2013 at 10:05 AM

No, this is about judicial confirmations. The Senate already passed its amnesty bill this year. It is currently languishing in the House.

NotCoach on November 20, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Desperation to change the news cycle. That’s all this is.

MTF on November 20, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Yep — even if Reid was to actually make this his No. 1 project for 2014, Chuck Schumer would drag him into a cloak room and bonk him on the head with a lamp as long as the Democrats’ current poll numbers keep trending in the same downward direction.

Reid killing the filibuster right now would not just completely disarm the Democrats going into 2015 when it came to challenging the GOP if they win back the Senate, it would disarm their ability to even complain about the Republicans nuking the filibuster, because Harry Reid would have done it for them.

jon1979 on November 20, 2013 at 10:15 AM

They sense the storm that’s coming next year election wise…time to pack the courts with as many liberal psycho *#cktards as they can.

BigWyo on November 20, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Ted Cruz should filibuster Reids filibuster buster.

redguy on November 20, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Rand Paul: “It looked like I participated in the filibuster filibuster, but I really didn’t and thought it was stupid.”

oldroy on November 20, 2013 at 10:13 AM

So Rand Paul agrees with Reid.

redguy on November 20, 2013 at 10:17 AM

On the other hand, there is a serious question about the proper consideration of presidential appointments. Elections have consequences, and one of those is the ability to appoint judges and especially term-limited political appointments within the executive.

Yes, elections do have consequences and the legislators we elect to the Senate are allowed to check the radical moves by a power mad President and his enablers.

I think the argument that the sitting President ought to e given deference on his appointments is ludicrous.

Vince on November 20, 2013 at 10:17 AM

Fortunately, one of them is not that your political opposition is completely hamstrung.

Gee whiz Ed.

Akzed on November 20, 2013 at 10:12 AM

No kidding. Apparently Ed is of the obama mindset. He was reelected so we must all stand by the way side and allow him whatever he wants.

If I recall correctly there were some people elected to the senate who are not Dems. This means they can use whatever powers necessary to prevent another period of judicial activism by preventing the most partisan political preseident to sit the throne, his hack nominees.

JAGonzo on November 20, 2013 at 10:17 AM

…I HATE Harry !

KOOLAID2 on November 20, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Without the threat of filibuster, the horrific Samantha Power or Susan Rice could be Secretary of State. Enough said?

slickwillie2001 on November 20, 2013 at 10:19 AM

“Republicans are burning down Obamacare so have to pass this enabling act.”

kcewa on November 20, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Reid knows Mitch when he becomes majority leader will bring back the filibuster rule. Mitch will bow down to the media pressure to bring it back.

It is all upside for Reid, He is very smart man.

Another reason why people in Kentucky next year should fire him.

BroncosRock on November 20, 2013 at 10:23 AM

Without the threat of filibuster, the horrific Samantha Power or Susan Rice could be Secretary of State. Enough said?

slickwillie2001 on November 20, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Well, Rice would probably be an improvement over Lurch. Rice is a rock for brains sock puppet. She wouldn’t ever contribute to the stupid, only carry out the stupid she was told to do. Powers I agree with. She is just plain evil.

NotCoach on November 20, 2013 at 10:24 AM

NotCoach on November 20, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Like I said, this is about cramming through judicial nominees. Harry Reid is a traitor and should be treated as such.:-)
But it is about continuing their destruction of America.

Flange on November 20, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Yeah, elections have consequences……nominating libtard hacks for lifetime appointments has consequences too. They get denied.

Mord on November 20, 2013 at 10:25 AM

On the other hand, if Obama packs the DC Circuit, a Republican Congress can simply reallocate that court’s jurisdicaiton over agency appeals to the other circuits. It’s legislation that gives them jurisdiction over all the federal agency rules, not the Constitution.

2ndMAW68 on November 20, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Well, if Republicans surrender each time Reid threatens them, they have effectively rendered the filibuster useless.

Exactly. The last round (July 2013) was an absolute joke. The Republicans gave them most of the nominees in exchange for a promise from the Democrats that Obama would withdraw a few controversial nominees and the Senate would maintain the right to filibuster.

We’ve come full circle in three months.

blammm on November 20, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Sort of OT…hopefully the “Blame Bush” meme is shifting to “Blame Obama” and the latter will actually be true.

22044 on November 20, 2013 at 10:28 AM

So Rand Paul agrees with Reid.

redguy on November 20, 2013 at 10:17 AM

No. I think he would triangulate his opinion about it. He’d leave the door open to go both ways. Seems to be the standard pattern for anyone thinking of running for the big office.

The nuclear options doesn’t require the Republicans to agree by the way. Reid can do it on his own.

All the more reason why our GOP should have been looking far more carefully at who has been appointed to the bench even when we have had Republican administrations.

And if Reid uses the Nuke option. Maybe the GOP will do the same in 2015, without any shame when the Dems cry that it’s not fair.

oldroy on November 20, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Reid killing the filibuster right now would not just completely disarm the Democrats going into 2015 when it came to challenging the GOP if they win back the Senate, it would disarm their ability to even complain about the Republicans nuking the filibuster, because Harry Reid would have done it for them.

jon1979 on November 20, 2013 at 10:15 AM

If the dems have a sudden urge to try for the title of “The Stupid Party”, I say let them.

trigon on November 20, 2013 at 10:32 AM

Yeah, elections have consequences……nominating libtard hacks for lifetime appointments has consequences too. They get denied.

Mord on November 20, 2013 at 10:25 AM

The thing is they that line only seems to be used when Democrats have an advantage. Otherwise it’s “across the aisle”.

oldroy on November 20, 2013 at 10:34 AM

That would take some real statesmanship on both sides of the aisle…

I dunno. I think all it would take is an HONEST president who’s not looking to create an atmosphere of judicial activism.

Obama selects these far-left aging hippies and then expects Republicans to treat them as if they’re middle-of-the-road. We all know the stunt he’s trying to pull on the appeals court. There’s just no reason to give him anything he wants because his consistent purpose is to destroy any opposition to his singular will… and his will NEEDS to be opposed.

Murf76 on November 20, 2013 at 10:40 AM

This is just all-out war until Nov 2014.

Reid has done nothing in the senate except enable Obama – apart from a little cowboy poetry – so that tells you where this comes from.

Obama is sure he is right so he needs dictatorial powers to “fix” Obamacare and when that fails, he will be sitting pretty to “fix” the 2014 elections as much as he can.

gh on November 20, 2013 at 10:56 AM

The mortician needs a sign.

Schadenfreude on November 20, 2013 at 10:57 AM

I’d prefer that we look for a better use of the filibuster when it comes to appointments, and get rid of the bad blood that’s been around since the Robert Bork and John Tower confirmation hearings.

When confronting the political party engaging in a stealth socialist takeover of the United States–the same political party responsible for Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the persecution of Tea Party groups and conservative individuals by the IRS, et al–seems to me the proper response is to fight them on everything, everywhere, all the time. Obstruct, oppose, balk, and attack whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Given the disastrous Obamacare rollout, President Obama is especially politically vulnerable right now and so are the Democrats tied to him. I say exploit that vulnerability as much as possible. That whole collegiate ‘reaching across the aisle’ and ‘spirit of bipartisanship’ nonsense is pointless when the opposition is not acting in good faith.

No more nice, please. The GOP Establishment’s refusal to confront and confound the Obama Administration is killing the country.

troyriser_gopftw on November 20, 2013 at 10:58 AM

From what I’ve read, the Court of Appeals in DC isn’t having the probems with vacancies that other courts are. This court is a stepping stone to the Supreme Court and that’s what the goal of democrats is – pack the supreme court (and this appeals court) with left leaning judges.

When you can predict what a decision will be based on who appointed the judge, we’re all in trouble. It’s a shame that the justice system has become politicized like the other two branches. In a perfect world justice is supposed to be blind. Maybe some day… but not in this life.

iamsaved on November 20, 2013 at 10:58 AM

If Obama is appointing judges that will not follow the constitution, the Senate has not only a right, but an obligation, to block them.

There is not an equivalence here. The Dems blocked judges because they would follow the constitution – this is wrong and illegal.

If the Reps block judges because they won’t follow the constitution they are doing the right thing…and their jobs.

18-1 on November 20, 2013 at 11:10 AM

From what I’ve read, the Court of Appeals in DC isn’t having the probems with vacancies that other courts are. This court is a stepping stone to the Supreme Court and that’s what the goal of democrats is – pack the supreme court (and this appeals court) with left leaning judges.

Two points:

1) The vacancy situation isn’t really bad there. It’s about the philosophical leaning of the DC Circuit which is the motivating factor. The DC Circuit has three vacancies (two from judges attaining senior status and one seat vacated by Roberts when he went to SCOTUS). There are six senior judges still working at the court, even though they’ve technically lost their seats due to age. That essentially means that there are still three extra judges on the DC Circuit. The argument that there’s a need to end a case backlog is just window dressing.

2) I think using the DC circuit as the minor leagues of the Supreme Court is not the primary motive here. A liberal president will appoint a liberal nominee to the Supreme Court regardless of what court they currently serve on. 99% of Americans don’t know the difference in appellate jurisdiction between the DC Circuit and a numbered Circuit. All other things equal, I don’t think people will see a DC Circuit nominee to SCOTUS as more qualified than a 9th Circuit nominee. The real reason why he wants to stack the DC Circuit is that it handles most appeals of administrative rulemaking and adjudications. Since Obama’s policies post-2010 have been unilaterally implemented by the executive branch, he needs to stack this court to protect his actions. Think about it: all the work done at the EPA, NLRB, HHS, etc. is in the balance. The last words he wants to hear are “arbitrary and capricious” (incidentally my favorite words in the English language).

blammm on November 20, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Go ahead Harry. Nuclear winter can start in January of 2015, when you aren’t majority leader any more.

RSbrewer on November 20, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Screw him, let him do whatever he wants. When they are the minority, and they will be, tell them nothing, give them nothing and treat them like dogs.

rplat on November 20, 2013 at 11:28 AM

I seem to recall a man named Miguel Estrada and the term “nuclear option”, circa 2005.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Harry Reid.

Bitter Clinger on November 20, 2013 at 11:40 AM

I’d prefer that we look for a better use of the filibuster when it comes to appointments, and get rid of the bad blood that’s been around since the Robert Bork and John Tower confirmation hearings. That would take some real statesmanship on both sides of the aisle rather than threats and see-sawing obstructionism, but I doubt we’ll see that from Democrats while they sink under the weight of ObamaCare.

Sinking under the weight of the EpicClusterFarkNado has little to nothing to do with the willingness of Dingy Harry and the other members of the Senate Democrat leadership to either be ‘statesmen’ or change the rules mid-game to prevent the Senate GOP from doing what the Senate Dems have callously done before with little remorse or class.

By all means the Senate GOP needs to call Dingy Harry’s bluff. Let Harry try to ram through changes and set this precedent. Then the Senate Dems will have to live under the ramifications of it when they lose the majority – which could be as early as January 2015. Only 6 seats need to switch – and thanks to the EpicClusterFark and the other overreaches of the progressives – this is becoming more likely.

Athos on November 20, 2013 at 11:48 AM

I agree with the screw’em visceral response…..the problem is we don’t have a current Republican leadership that is willing or capable of playing the same sort of hardball.

Unfortunately Nancy Pelosi would carve up John Boner in a knife fight and have plenty of blood lust left to cut down the first rank of current Republican leadership before washing her hands….

Think Michael Madsen’s character Mr. Blonde dancing to “Stuck in the Middle With You”…from Reservoir Dogs….

They get Mr. Blonde…..we get Mr. Whipple

R Square on November 20, 2013 at 11:51 AM

This is an attempt to cram amnesty through. Harry Reid is a traitor and should be treated as such.

Flange on November 20, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Senate is not the roadblock there. Remember, they already passed the travesty bill. So, nope, not for that reason.

astonerii on November 20, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Dear Leader must want this court packing thingy awful bad. Those 27 dems need to take a close look at the shovel in their hands and decide if they really want to continue digging.

Kissmygrits on November 20, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Athos on November 20, 2013 at 11:48 AM

The problem here is that regression is rarely ever reversed. The Republicans never actually try to accomplish anything of value to conservatives, but the Democrats, knowing that what ever they do accomplish will never be rolled back, are very willing to abuse power they have today.

astonerii on November 20, 2013 at 12:02 PM

If Reid kills the filibuster, the very first law that the Senate should pass in 2015 is one getting rid of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which will as surely destroy our economy at some point in the future as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did in 2008.

thuja on November 20, 2013 at 12:05 PM

If Reid kills the filibuster, the very first law that the Senate should pass in 2015 is one getting rid of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which will as surely destroy our economy at some point in the future as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did in 2008.

thuja on November 20, 2013 at 12:05 PM

That’ll be a battle, because Democratics designed it to be invulnerable to Congress.

slickwillie2001 on November 20, 2013 at 12:07 PM

I don’t think Harry can do this until the beginning of the next session. The dim senators will probably be pretty unsteady if the trajectory of Zerokare continues as it has. If you think about the senators who are in trouble and add the ones who want to preserve the filly for their own use, I don’t think that leaves harry with enough. The thinking could be that this has nothing to do with the current crop of nominees but about Ginsburg and maybe Breyer retiring. Again Zerokare could screw things up for the dims for along time. There’s no way Ginsburg lasts another 11 years along with Breyer,Scalia,and Kennedy. Zerokare is in only it’s blastula stage. When it becomes grown monster, look out dims. Exit question: what will the left’s new euphemism be, now that queered “liberal” and my personal favorite,”progressive”??

rik on November 20, 2013 at 12:30 PM

A year from now, when the ObamaCare mandates hit the employer-based group insurance market as it’s hit the individual market this year, Democrats may end up looking at a total wipeout in the midterm elections.

There it is, Ed.

The first time I’ve seen this in a published report.

This needs to be front-and-center daily to strangle the O-Care “baby” in the crib.

socalcon on November 20, 2013 at 12:31 PM

I can see Reid looking down field and seeing Dems feeling left out hung out to dry with the whole Obamanablecare fiasco and recognizing that the Obamanable One’s Dhimmy cover in various committee hearings will soon start evaporating. This means BIG TROUBLE as when this happens R’s will be filing suits in the DC district courts regarding F&F, IRS, DOE,NSA,DOJ wiretapping, Benghazi and wherever else these investigations go.

Obam-bam & Co. are going to need the appellate courts packed with their appointees to keep major Dhimmycratic from possibly going to prison! Just as it was premature to write off the GOP and the end of conservatism with The One’s re-election, Obamanablecare hasn’t utterly destroyed the Dhimmycratic Party…yet!

But, if central Dhimmy players & White House personnel start doing Perp-Walks in orange jumpsuits…all bets are off. Will Dingy Harry pull the nuclear trigger to avoid such a spectacle?

Possibly, leaning towards probable if there is any possibility Ol’ Harry himself sporting an orange wardrobe himself.

IMO, The Dhims have held fast up till now because the multiple criminal/unconstitutional acts by the Obamanable Administration portend the very real possibility once the dam breaks and various members start distancing themselves.

Somebody fire up the popcorn, it’s about to get very interesting!

Archimedes on November 20, 2013 at 1:31 PM

There are two things missing from the caption of this link.
Picture Reid with two revolvers in each hand aimed at his head.

(And the sight of both Dingy Harry and that simpleton from Michigan, Cretin Carl Levin has cause me to lose at least ten I.Q points in the short time I viewed it.)

If the Stupid Party can get any sort of plan together and run decent campaigns across this land, hold the house and take the senate, one can only dream of the political intrigues over the NEXT two years.

Missilengr on November 20, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Reid prepping new nuclear option on filibuster

Yet another example of the Democrats playing to win while the Republicans play to go along and get along with their Democrat Congressional frat buddies.

In the Senate a super majority used to be 67 votes. In the mid 70s(?) the Democrats ran into a strong Republican minority and the Democrats then changed the super majority to the current 60 votes to get around those Republicans. Now the Democrats are at it again and again the Republicans will do nothing now or when they win the Senate back. It will be all’s forgiven, let’s be buddies.

RJL on November 20, 2013 at 8:32 PM

Reid is a piece of worm-ridden dog poo. The man has no class.

csdeven on November 21, 2013 at 12:24 AM