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Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

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Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Old 11-21-13, 12:38 PM
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Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

He's been threatening to and now he's done it:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...9AK11420131121

(Reuters) - The Democratic-led Senate, in a historic rule change, stripped Republicans on Thursday of their ability to block President Barack Obama's judicial and executive branch nominees.

On a nearly party-line vote of 52-48, Democrats abruptly changed the Senate's balance of power by reducing from 60 to 51 the number of votes needed to end procedural roadblocks known as filibusters against all presidential nominees, except those for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Some background/metrics:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...he-filibuster/

Harry Reid is on the Senate floor this morning complaining, yet again, about Republicans' frequent use of the filibuster to block President Obama's executive-branch appointments and judicial nominations. “There are currently 75 executive branch nominations ready to be confirmed by the Senate," he said, "waiting an average of 140 days."
As the same rule change will apply if the GOP wins back the Senate and White House in 2016 (and the Demos used to do the same thing when Dubya was President), this is a pretty big deal.
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Old 11-21-13, 12:45 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Agreed. Always talked about and never done. And now both parties will use it all the time. I'm sure this is good for America.
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Old 11-21-13, 12:45 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

The only thing worse than not getting what you want is getting it. It will be interesting to see how this plays out with a different majority in the future.
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Old 11-21-13, 12:49 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Originally Posted by wishbone View Post
The only thing worse than not getting what you want is getting it. It will be interesting to see how this plays out with a different majority in the future.
Yup. The Dems will be bitterly complaining about the majority running roughshod over the minority when they're out of power.
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Old 11-21-13, 12:50 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Originally Posted by Harry Reid, 2005
Mr. President, yesterday morning I spoke here about a statement the Majority Leader issued calling the filibuster a “procedural gimmick.”

The Websters dictionary defines “gimmick” as - - “an ingenious new scheme or angle.” No Mr. President, the filibuster is not a scheme. And it is not new. The filibuster is far from a “procedural gimmick.” It is part of the fabric of this institution. It was well known in colonial legislatures, and it is an integral part of our country’s 217 years of history.

The first filibuster in the U.S. Congress happened in 1790. It was used by lawmakers from Virginia and South Carolina who were trying to prevent Philadelphia from hosting the first Congress.

Since 1790, the filibuster has been employed hundreds and hundreds of times. Senators have used it to stand up to popular presidents. To block legislation. And yes – even to stall executive nominees.

The roots of the filibuster can be found in the Constitution and in the Senate rules.

In establishing each House of Congress, Article I Section 5 of the Constitution states that “Each House may determine the rules.”

In crafting the rules of the Senate, Senators established the right to extended debate - and they formalized it with Rule XXII almost 100 years ago. This rule codified the practice that Senators could debate extensively.

Under Rule XXII, debate may be cut off under limited circumstances.

- 67 votes to end a filibuster of a motion to amend a Senate rule.
- 60 votes to end a filibuster against any other legislative business.


A conversation between Thomas Jefferson and George Washington describes the United States Senate and our Founders Fathers vision of it.

Jefferson asked Washington what is the purpose of the Senate?
Washington responded with a question of his own, “Why did you pour that coffee into your saucer?” “To cool it,” Jefferson replied. To which Washington said; “Even so, we pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.”

And this is exactly what the filibuster does. It encourages moderation and consensus. It gives voice to the minority, so that cooler heads may prevail.

It also separates us from the House of Representatives – where the majority rules. And it is very much in keeping with the spirit of the government established by the Framers of our Constitution: Limited Government...Separation of Powers...Checks and Balances.

Mr. President, the filibuster is a critical tool in keeping the majority in check. This central fact has been acknowledged and even praised by Senators from both parties.

In fact, my colleague from Georgia – Senator Isakson - recently shared a conversation he had with an official from the Iraqi government. The Senator had asked this official if he was worried that the majority in Iraq would overrun the minority. But the official replied… “no….we have the secret weapon called the ‘filibuster.’”

In recalling that conversation, Senator Isakson remarked: “If there were ever a reason for optimism… it is one of [the Iraqi] minority leaders, proudly stating one of the pillars and principles of our government, as the way they would ensure that the majority never overran the minority.”

And he was right. I spoke yesterday about Senator Holt and his 1939 filibuster to protect workers’ wages and hours. There are also recent examples of the filibuster achieving good.

In 1985, Senators from rural states used the filibuster to force Congress to address a major crisis in which thousands of farmers were on the brink of bankruptcy. In 1995, the filibuster was used by Senators to protect the rights of workers to a fair wage and a safe workplace.

Now Mr. President, I will not stand here and say the filibuster has always been used for positive purposes. Just as it has been used to bring about social change, it was also used to stall progress that this country needed to make. It is often shown that the filibuster was used against Civil Right legislation. But Civil Rights legislation passed - - Civil Rights advocates met the burden.

And it is noteworthy that today the Congressional Black Caucus is opposed to the Nuclear Option. For further analysis, let’s look at Robert Caro, a noted historian and Pulitzer Prize winner.

At a meeting I attended with other Senators, he spoke about the history of the filibuster. He made a point about its legacy that was important. He noted that when legislation is supported by the majority of Americans, it eventually overcomes a filibuster’s delay - as public protest far outweighs any Senator’s appetite to filibuster.

But when legislation only has the support of the minority, the filibuster slows the legislation …prevents a Senator from ramming it through…and gives the American people enough time join the opposition.

Mr. President, the right to extended debate is never more important than when one party controls Congress and the White House. In these cases, the filibuster serves as a check on power and preserves our limited government.

Right now, the only check on President Bush is the Democrats ability to voice their concern in the Senate. If Republicans rollback our rights in this Chamber, there will be no check on their power. The radical, right wing will be free to pursue any agenda they want. And not just on judges. Their power will be unchecked on Supreme Court nominees…the President’s nominees in general…and legislation like Social Security privatization.

Of course the President would like the power to name anyone he wants to lifetime seats on the Supreme Court and other federal courts. And that is why the White House has been aggressively lobbying Senate Republicans to change Senate rules in a way that would hand dangerous new powers to the President over two separate branches – the Congress and the Judiciary.

Unfortunately, this is part of a disturbing pattern of behavior by this White House and Republicans in Washington. From Dick Cheney’s fight to slam the doors of the White House on the American people…

To the President’s refusal to cooperate with the 9-11 Commission… To Senate Republicans attempt to destroy the last check in Washington on Republican power…To the House Majority’s quest to silence the minority in the House…

Republicans have sought to destroy the balance of power in our government by grabbing power for the presidency, silencing the minority and weakening our democracy.

America does not work the way the radical right-wing dictates to President Bush and the Republican Senate Leaders. And Mr. President, that is not how the United States Senate works either.

For 200 years, we’ve had the right to extended debate. It’s not some “procedural gimmick.” It’s within the vision of the Founding Fathers of our country. They established a government so that no one person – and no single party – could have total control.

Some in this Chamber want to throw out 217 years of Senate history in the quest for absolute power.

They want to do away with Mr. Smith coming to Washington. They want to do away with the filibuster. They think they are wiser than our Founding Fathers.

I doubt that’s true.
Funny how this speech and all the other speeches Harry Reid used to make to defend the filibuster as an integral part of the democratic process are no longer anywhere to be found on his web site.

How much longer until democrats.senate.gov delete this web page: http://democrats.senate.gov/2005/05/...of-filibuster/

Last edited by RoyalTea; 11-21-13 at 12:55 PM.
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Old 11-21-13, 01:12 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Harry Reid was opposed to this for the longest time but things have gotten ridiculous. The number of filibusters used during this administration is unprecedented. I'm sure he's fully aware of the ramifications and felt it was worth it to bring sanity back to the appointment process.
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Old 11-21-13, 01:50 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

So does the minority party even need to show up any longer?
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Old 11-21-13, 01:55 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
Harry Reid was opposed to this for the longest time but things have gotten ridiculous. The number of filibusters used during this administration is unprecedented. I'm sure he's fully aware of the ramifications and felt it was worth it to bring sanity back to the appointment process.
Do you think it's because the Republicans just like to hassle him or because he puts up crappy partisan nominees?
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Old 11-21-13, 02:02 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Originally Posted by General Zod View Post
Do you think it's because the Republicans just like to hassle him or because he puts up crappy partisan nominees?
Obviously, to hassle him and make him a one-term President.
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Old 11-21-13, 02:02 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
He's been threatening to and now he's done it:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...9AK11420131121



Some background/metrics:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...he-filibuster/



As the same rule change will apply if the GOP wins back the Senate and White House in 2016 (and the Demos used to do the same thing when Dubya was President), this is a pretty big deal.

Cuz they have a shot, right? Right?

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Old 11-21-13, 02:11 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

It'll happen at some point. Maybe the Democrats will change the rule back if they see that as a realistic possibility.
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Old 11-21-13, 02:13 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Or perhaps a 51 vote majority is all that should be required for approving a Presidential nominee? Seems reasonable to me, regardless of party. This does not apply to SCOTUS appointees.
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Old 11-21-13, 02:52 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Originally Posted by Why So Blu? View Post
Cuz they have a shot, right? Right?

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes...a-tossup/?_r=0

Nate Silver says Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Carolina (special), South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wyoming are "Safe" or "Likely" Republican states (Republicans gain Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia).

Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia are "Safe" or "Likely" Democrat States (Democrats gain no new states).

The states that are slight leans or tossups are: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina. I see 4 states that I'd classify as "red states" and 2 that I'd classify as "battleground states"

Is it laughable to think that six states will flip from Democrat to Republican next year?

Alaska - Democratic Senator Mark Begich barely beat Ted Stevens, who was under indictment
Arkansas - Democratic Senator Mark Pryor bascially ran unopposed in 2008. Pro Obamacare in a state that wants to secede because of Obamacare
Louisiana - Another state that wants to secede because of Obamacare
Montana - Max Baucus is retiring (red state)
North Carolina - ???
South Dakota - Tim Johnson is retiring (red state)
West Virginia - Jay Rockefeller is retiring (red state)

Last edited by RoyalTea; 11-21-13 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 11-21-13, 03:22 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Originally Posted by RoyalTea View Post
Is it laughable to think that seven states will flip from Democrat to Republican next year?
No, but even if they win control by a narrow margin, it will be extremely difficult to keep it after 2016. The Republicans who were swept into office in 2010 will be on the ballot, which means they'll be defending quite a few swing state seats. There might be two Democrats who even have a semi-legitimate chance of losing (NV-Reid and CO-Bennet). Democrats do better in presidential years too because of the higher turnout, so they'll likely pick up a few seats at least (some combination of IL, IA, WI, OH, PA, and FL).

To win the Presidency and have control of the Senate in 2016, Republicans will likely need to win all of the races you mention and more.
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Old 11-21-13, 03:35 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
Or perhaps a 51 vote majority is all that should be required for approving a Presidential nominee? Seems reasonable to me, regardless of party. This does not apply to SCOTUS appointees.
Agreed. It is not a good thing for the courts and therefore not a good thing for the country when judicial nominations are filibustered in such large quantities.
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Old 11-21-13, 03:43 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
Agreed. It is not a good thing for the courts and therefore not a good thing for the country when judicial nominations are filibustered in such large quantities.
I think that the size of the majority needed to confirm a nominee should be related to the length of the term of the position.

If someone's getting nominated for a position that they can hold onto for the rest of their life, they should need a little more than a simple majority.
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Old 11-21-13, 03:52 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of classicmen suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
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Old 11-21-13, 04:13 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

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Old 11-21-13, 04:14 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Originally Posted by RoyalTea View Post
I think that the size of the majority needed to confirm a nominee should be related to the length of the term of the position.

If someone's getting nominated for a position that they can hold onto for the rest of their life, they should need a little more than a simple majority.
How many judicial positions are lifetime appointments? I know SCOTUS is, obviously.
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Old 11-21-13, 04:19 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Originally Posted by Supermallet View Post
How many judicial positions are lifetime appointments? I know SCOTUS is, obviously.
Aren't all federal judges?
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Old 11-21-13, 04:27 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Originally Posted by Supermallet View Post
How many judicial positions are lifetime appointments? I know SCOTUS is, obviously.
Anything that falls under the Article III judiciary is a lifetime term:
SCOTUS
US District Court
US Court of International Trade
US Court of Appeals Circuit Courts
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Old 11-21-13, 04:29 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Originally Posted by movielib View Post
Aren't all federal judges?
I think there are some judges that fall under the jurisdiction of the Legislative branch via Article I, Section 8 (bankruptcy judges, patent judges, military judges, etc). These judges usually have 15-year terms.
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Old 11-21-13, 04:38 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

Originally Posted by RoyalTea View Post
I think there are some judges that fall under the jurisdiction of the Legislative branch via Article I, Section 8 (bankruptcy judges, patent judges, military judges, etc). These judges usually have 15-year terms.
I was thinking of district court judges, court of appeals judges and Supreme Court Justices. You know, real judges.
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Old 11-21-13, 04:59 PM
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Re: Harry Reid exercises the "nuclear option" on Presidential nominees in the Senate

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...y_Barack_Obama

Seems like there have been quite a few judges appointed by Obama (39 judges in the court of appeals, 168 in the district courts). I see a lot that have been confirmed unanimously and by voice vote and relatively few that were even close. 15 of the 168 (a little less than 10%) district judges and 5 of the 39 (a little more than 10%) appellate judges had more than 20 "No" votes.

Is the problem that the Republicans are blocking his nominees? Or that they're not just rubber-stamping them without any due diligence?
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