Home National Politics BREAKING: Majority Leader Reid Goes “Nuclear”

BREAKING: Majority Leader Reid Goes “Nuclear”

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As you can see in the graphic, Senate Republicans have brought the nation’s top legislative body close to a standstill. As Majority Leader Reid said a few minutes ago, “- “Can anyone say the Senate is working now? I don’t think so!”

But it’s worse than that; as Jonathan Capehart wrote yesterday, “The GOP is out to destroy the country.” And we’ve seen it over and over again, on issues of all types, as Republicans completely abuse the filibuster, something that’s not even in the constitution, I’d point out. Anyway, it now may be coming to a head. I’m watching the debate on CSPAN right now. Check it out.

P.S. After Reid proposed no more filibusters on judicial or executive nominees, except for Supreme Court, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell began ranting and raving about…yep, you guess it, “Obamacare!” Yep, these people are nothing if not monomaniacal. Oh, and of course, he’s also blaming his own caucus’ disgraceful behavior on…yep, the Democrats. Hahahaha.

UPDATE 11:09 am: The Senate is now voting to reconsider the nomination of Patricia Millett to serve on the D.C. Circuit. Sen. Kaine’s statement on that one is available here.

UPDATE 11:13 am: Sen. Warner tweets, “It’s time to break this gridlock: Senate voting a 2nd time on Va’s very qualified Patricia Millett for DC circuit court.”

UPDATE 11:19 am: Senators Warner and Kaine both voted “aye.”

UPDATE 11:27 am: Joshua Israel of Think Progress tweets, “This the the motion to RECONSIDER the rejected cloture on Millett. Collins and Murkowski voted for cloture originally.”

UPDATE 11:27 am: The vote was 57-40 (and 3 voting present), so cloture fails. Sen. Reid moves to reconsider the Millett nomination. Sen. McConnell now asking ridiculous rhetorical questions about how wonderful Republicans have supposedly been.

UPDATE 11:31 am: The NY Times reports, “Senate Democrats on Thursday moved toward a vote to drastically limit Republican efforts to block President Obama’s nominees, a change that would mark the most fundamental shift in the way the Senate functions in more than a generation. Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, set in motion a series of procedural steps that, if followed through, would eliminate the use of the filibuster against nominees to cabinet posts and the federal judiciary.”

UPDATE 11:32 am: Senate now voting on Sen. McConnell’s motion to adjourn until 5 pm today.

UPDATE 11:40 am: Both Senators Warner and Kaine vote no on McConnell’s motion.

UPDATE 11:46 am: By a 54-46 vote, the motion to adjourn has been defeated. The roll is now being called to reconsider the Millett nomination.

UPDATE 12:04 pm: Senators Warner and Kaine both voted “aye.” The motion to reconsider the Millett nomination passes by a simple majority. Wow.

UPDATE 12:09 pm: Politico reporter @mkraju tweets, “Reid can now raise a point of order that a simple majority should be able to move nominations; Chair rules no. Senate will overturn.” In other words, Harry Reid has pulled the trigger on the “nuclear” option. Go Harry!

UPDATE 12:17 pm: HuffPo reporter Ryan Grim (‏@ryangrim) tweets, “The vote happening now is the big one. In classic senate fashion, a no means yes. If a majority votes no, filibuster is gone for nominees.” Gotta love the Senate! LOL

UPDATE 12:20 pm: Dems should have done this years ago…this is looooong overdue!

this is loooooong overdue. Oh, and President Obama needed to stop hoping Republicans would be reasonable back in the spring of 2009.

UPDATE 12:28 pm: NY Times reporter  ‏@jonathanweisman tweets, “Three Senate Democrats have voted against obliterating the filibuster on judges: Levin, Manchin and Pryor.” Still should be enough for the “nuclear option” to pass.

UPDATE 12:31 pm: Quick review of what brought this about – Republicans have been suppressing votes, using the filibuster, using the hold, gerrymandering, you name it – everything to block the will of the majority. In so doing, they have made Congress completely dysfunctional. Finally, Senate Dems have said “enough is enough.” It’s about freakin’ time.

UPDATE 12:33 pm: By a 52-48 vote, the ruling of the chair is not sustained.

  • Ron

    Extra-constitutional abuse of the rules of the Senate has been severely curtailed.

    I look forward to the same thing happening on legislation and SC nominees. Republicans can and will do the same thing the next time they control the Senate, House, and Presidency (which hopefully is no time soon).

  • From Sen. Kaine’s office:

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement today after voting to ensure judicial nominees get an up-or-down vote on confirmation by eliminating the filibuster on all judicial nominations other than Supreme Court nominees:

    “Today I joined a majority of my Senate colleagues in taking an important step to ensure highly-qualified, non-controversial judicial nominees, including Virginia’s own Pattie Millett, are given the up-or-down vote they deserve.

    “What we have witnessed in the Senate in recent months is unprecedented. The only explanation for blocking the consideration of a nominee like Ms. Millett – a military spouse who has served under both Democratic and Republican Solicitor Generals, has argued more cases before the Supreme Court and circuit courts than all but a handful of attorneys and is uniformly praised by bar groups – is that Republicans have committed to pursuing a strategy of nullifying the law to achieve their goals. Their decision to block four highly-qualified nominees to the D.C. Circuit since I took office eleven months ago – three in the last three weeks alone – is proof that the goal was to nullify the law that says the D.C. Circuit has eleven judges.

    “Today’s rules change will end this unprecedented abuse of the filibuster and allow us to begin to break through the gridlock that has frustrated Virginians and prevented us from tackling so many important issues facing our country.”

  • Andy Schmookler

    It is great to see the Democrats at last rouse themselves to treat as the enemy a political force whose insistence on making all politics into war, and whose enmity against them, has been so clear for so long.

    But great as is today’s news, let’s not lose sight of the still-established pattern of imbalance, well-summed up by the line from Yeats: “the best lack all conviction / while the worst are filled with a passionate intensity.”

    One got some idea of the asymmetry around this nuclear option during a discussion two nights ago either on Chris Hayes’ or Lawrence O’Donnell’s show.

    Back when Bush was president, the Republicans were QUICK to threaten the nuclear option whereas, as Lowell notes, this is perhaps four years overdue.

    Moreover, when the Democrats used the filibuster rule to block Bush judicial nominees, the handful they blocked were GROSSLY OUT OF THE MAINSTREAM, opposed because of their documented extreme record.

    But Obama has nominated very moderate judges, nothing extreme about them. The Republicans’ obstruction has not only been more general, but it has had less legitimacy. It’s really been part of the larger process of their refusal to respect this elected president’s right to function as president.

    We should applaud the Democrats’ actions today, AND we should push them to match the passionate intensity of these Republicans in the battle, so long as the GOP insists that our politics be a form of warfare.

  • blue bronc

    Finally the Dems did not try to kick the football. Instead took the ball and went home.