Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 4, 2015

‘Nuclear’ Nominations Aftermath Slows Senate to Crawl

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Just how many of President Barack Obama’s nominees will get confirmed this year? If last week is any indication, the answer may depend on whether Democrats once again employ the “nuclear” option to effectively change the Senate’s rules.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made a big deal last week about scheduling nomination votes on the Friday before recess, but with senators in both parties eager to jet out of town, the Nevada Democrat was forced to punt.

“We are slogging through these nominations,” Reid said April 10 on the Senate floor. “It is kind of slow because of the inordinate amount of time that we are caused to eat up.”

Reid pondered on the floor whether he should have gone even further on rules changes last year, given the Republican slow-walking of nominations whose confirmations have become a fait accompli, and he lamented that a minimum wage debate he hoped to have on the Senate floor before the break was delayed as a result.

In November, the majority leader and his fellow Democrats detonated the so-called nuclear option to prevent the minority from blocking executive and most judicial nominations. But Democrats didn’t limit the debate time allowed under the rules on nominations — with Republicans in some cases entitled to up to 30 hours per nomination.

“I might say many of these nominees would have been confirmed last December had we not experienced this event perpetrated by the majority in a heavy-handed attempt to alter the balance, to change the nature of the Senate with a simple majority,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the floor. “It was an unfortunate decision, but those kinds of decisions have consequences. And all we have done here is exercise … the rights that senators have under the rules of the Senate.

“If the majority leader doesn’t like the way the Senate is working, I would recommend that he change his behavior,” McConnell continued.

Or, Reid could effectively change the rules again.

Senate Democratic aides said it’s unclear whether there are enough votes to use the nuclear option a second time to limit the post-cloture time — yet.

“What you will have again is a slow building up of these violations of the comity of the Senate,” one aide said. “And you’ll have, if it continues, the momentum again to make another rules change.”

The aide said Democrats’ options range from eliminating post-cloture time to requiring a talking filibuster once cloture is invoked on nominations.

Post-cloture time wasn’t really discussed back when Democrats were gearing up to go “nuclear.”

“The goal was to make it so that if we went through all this trouble and took all this floor time people would be confirmed,” one aide said.

There’s also the likelihood that Republicans would shift to other retaliatory tactics, such as limiting the time committees can meet.

Delaying tactics take on extra power in an election year because any business that can’t get done efficiently is likely to be kicked over into a post-election session — where the dynamics may be very different because of the election’s outcome.

Democrats, should they lose the majority, would likely face a choice — cut loose some nominations given the limited time available or eliminate post-cloture time to slam through nominations before a Republican holds the gavel.

Another Democratic aide said Republicans appear to be using a playbook of calibrated obstruction strategy aimed at mucking up the schedule but not so much that Democrats would go nuclear again.

It’s clear Democrats and the White House have successes from going “nuclear” despite the trouble, including filling three seats on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and confirming Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez and naming ex-Rep. Melvin Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. None of those nominations received 60 votes and presumably would have been blocked without the rules change.

A Republican aide said any talk of further changes to the nominations process belies concerns Democrats have over keeping their majority.

“They look desperate,” the GOP aide said. “Desperate to do what they could ahead of what many observers say will be a very difficult election day for Senate Democrats.”

The aide also suggested that the new simple majority hurdle for nominations has exposed rifts among Democrats.

One case in point was the nomination of Debo P. Adegbile, who was nominated to head the Department of Justice’s civil rights division. Eight Senate Democrats voted against Adegbile after groups such as the Fraternal Order of Police came out against the nomination over his participation in the legal defense of convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

“The check on executive power is gone,” the aide said of the nuclear option. “Now the administration is only expected to court the most partisan block of Democrats they can find.”

A new book on the filibuster, “The Senate Syndrome” by Steven S. Smith of Washington University in St. Louis, suggests the current balancing act isn’t a long-term answer.

“The compromising reformers’ search for a new balance between majority rule and supermajority cloture is likely to fail,” Smith wrote.

“Most recent reformers … are not very specific about the place in history to which they would like to see the Senate practices restored. Many of them point to the mid-twentieth century, when filibusters were rare and seemed to be reserved for the most important issues. This wish reflects self-deception or ignorance,” Smith wrote. “Liberals of that era were at least as agitated as today’s reformers about how parliamentary procedure was used to block action on their legislation.”

Comments (89)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

author email

  1. ShadrachSmith

    April 14, 2014
    9:38 p.m.

    The Democrats biggest image problem this year is incompetence. And Reid uses the nuclear option to speed things up, and it winds up slowing things down. And more important than slowing things down, it makes Democrat Senators in red states support party line appointments of hard-case liberals in roll-call votes.

    It is almost like Obama wants to lose the Senate.

    • Ninja0980

      April 15, 2014
      12:48 p.m.

      Here’s the thing, in many conservatives eye’s, anyone who is not a mold of Scalia or Alito is a flaming liberal.

      • ShadrachSmith

        April 15, 2014
        1:54 p.m.

        When did many conservatives give you permission to speak for their standards?
        Your bigotry is your own.

        • Ninja0980

          April 15, 2014
          4:23 p.m.

          It’s called freedom of speech, something conservatives claim to love.

          • Common_Sense_Post

            April 15, 2014
            7:45 p.m.

            Liberals believe anyone who will not spend everything we have and everything we will have on whatever wants we have today is callous and wrong. What say you about your repugnant stand on wasteful spending?

          • Ninja0980

            April 15, 2014
            7:50 p.m.

            Wasteful spending. You mean like on our bloated military budget?

          • Common_Sense_Post

            April 15, 2014
            8:17 p.m.

            Yea, all that stuff you supported and waste and corruption on a grand scale t like the stimulus. Well done sir!

          • bowhowdy2

            April 15, 2014
            10:55 p.m.

            I don’t totally disagree, but the Democrats voted for that bloated military and a heck of a lot of them voted for those two useless wars! When they had a chance to slash the military when they controlled everything from 2009-2010, they didn’t do so.

          • Ninja0980

            April 15, 2014
            11:36 p.m.

            You act like the Democrats were all the same.
            They aren’t, hence the reason single payer couldn’t get done, nor ENDA, nor cuts to the military.

          • Peter

            April 15, 2014
            9:57 p.m.

            Ninja: freedom to speak for yourself; not for others. I’m not surprised your progressive mindset cannot understand the difference.

      • KhadijahMuhammad

        April 15, 2014
        2:20 p.m.

        Nothing like some uniformed hyperbole to brighten up your day.

      • FreedomRings_CA

        April 15, 2014
        3:24 p.m.

        That is simply not true.

        • Ninja0980

          April 15, 2014
          4:24 p.m.

          Then why block Obama’s nominees to the 10th circuit then?

          • FreedomRings_CA

            April 23, 2014
            2:45 p.m.

            And from this you conclude that “true conservatives” view anyone not an Alito or Scalia as a “flaming liberal” ?

            Did you sleep through your logical reasoning course in college ?

      • davesnothere

        April 15, 2014
        6:05 p.m.

        “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?”

      • Kitten Gatto

        April 16, 2014
        12:13 a.m.

        Not even close. You a speaking out your….

        • Ninja0980

          April 16, 2014
          10:02 a.m.

          It is actually. But you and the others simply won’t acknowledge the fact Republicans had no intention of letting Obama put judges on the D.C circuit or elsewhere as long as he was in office unless it was someone in the far right mold they liked.

      • jd0717

        April 16, 2014
        6:08 a.m.

        Here’s a counterpoint. To many liberals, anyone who is not in the mold of Al Sharpton or Maxine Waters is a racist bigot.

  2. Malik Ahsan

    April 15, 2014
    1:27 a.m.

  3. libertytribune

    April 15, 2014
    2:10 a.m.

    Go ahead and play the nuclear option, it is an election year and from the looks of it, you are going to get creamed from the looks of it. So, go ahead you old fool.

  4. KhadijahMuhammad

    April 15, 2014
    2:20 p.m.

    The largest challenge facing this nation is the inability of Democrats to acknowledge the Laws of Unintended Consequences.

    Take an action, there will be a reaction. Going nuclear was an engraved invitation for McConnell to deploy every trick remaining to him in the book, and if THOSE rules get changed as well…….well, no sense having a Senate anymore. It will be nothing more than a rubber stamp for the majority party.

  5. Dan Wafford

    April 15, 2014
    2:21 p.m.

    Obama and Reid have already proven repeatedly that when the rules don’t suit their personal agendas, they will change, ignore, or violate them as required to jam through what they want. Someday the Republicans will be in the majority again, and just wait until you hear the screaming outrage from the Dem side if the Republicans even contemplate the possibility of pulling some of these same hijinx.

    • FreedomRings_CA

      April 15, 2014
      3:23 p.m.

      As my grandma used to say – what is sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander.

      She was a wise woman.

      Much wiser than Harry Reid. Longer-sighted, as well.

  6. Mygoodness

    April 15, 2014
    3:22 p.m.

    So the republicans will enhance the option by eliminating the filibuster for other types of business. Then the democrats will only have the veto pen. We all know how much backbone old “Line in the Sand” Obama has. The next two years could be interesting and we owe it all to the liberals for opening Pandora’s box.

  7. semby

    April 15, 2014
    3:25 p.m.

    You reap what you sow.
    Bring it on!

  8. moderate Guy

    April 15, 2014
    4:13 p.m.

    Yes, please change the rules; just before GOP takeover of the Senate.

  9. jeannebodine

    April 15, 2014
    4:35 p.m.

    “What you will have again is a slow building up of these violations of the comity of the Senate”
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Who writes this stuff? Hilarious!

  10. elephant4life

    April 15, 2014
    4:55 p.m.

    Here’s an idea: get rid of Harry Reid, then see whether the Senate functions any better. It could hardly function worse.

  11. Randy Townsend

    April 15, 2014
    5:21 p.m.

    Dims run the Senate any way they want, and it’s STILL those mean, old, obstructionist Republicans that are to blame… At some point, you have to wonder about the issue of incompetence on the part of the D’s… Well, you don’t wonder much…

  12. Amused

    April 15, 2014
    5:40 p.m.

    The secular left seems to just not understand the whole concept of “Karma”.

    They will!

  13. Jaymes

    April 15, 2014
    5:42 p.m.

    Things are only going to get worse. This is what happens when you nonchalantly destroy a 200+ year old institution.

  14. DisgustedwithElitism

    April 16, 2014
    7:55 a.m.

    Reid is not a leader. Pelosi is not a leader. BHO is not a leader. HRC is not a leader.

    “DEFINITION: Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.” from “What Is Leadership?” (www. forbes. com/ sites/ kevinkruse/ 2013/04/09/ what-is-leadership/)

    ‘Parts of the public, not necessarily on the right, have caught on to Obama’s double game, in which his administration has been rhetorically egalitarian and operationally elitist. The economic winners of the Obama years have been, in Joel Kotkin’s terms, the “oligarchs of Wall Street and Silicon Valley.” The losers have come not only from the private-sector middle class, but also from heavily Democratic minority groups.’ from “A Glimpse into the Political Future” (www. city-journal. org/ 2014/ eon0411fs.html)

    The modern Democrat Party favors autocrats and tyrants; only the naive and those invested in the single-issue splinter groups that comprise its coalition would continue to see it as a party of the People.

  15. Anonymous

    June 27, 2015
    7:22 a.m.

    obviously like your web-site but you need to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling problems and I in finding it very troublesome to inform the truth however I’ll surely come again again.

  16. Anonymous

    July 2, 2015
    11:20 a.m.

    I just could not depart your website prior to suggesting that I extremely enjoyed the usual information a person provide in your visitors? Is gonna be again frequently to investigate cross-check new posts.

  17. Anonymous

    July 4, 2015
    6:33 a.m.

    Some times its a pain in the ass to read what people wrote but this website is really user friendly! .

  18. Anonymous

    July 4, 2015
    10:26 a.m.

    Some really select posts on this internet site, saved to bookmarks.

  19. Anonymous

    July 7, 2015
    11:39 a.m.

    I love foregathering utile information , this post has got me even more info! .

  20. Anonymous

    July 9, 2015
    9:45 a.m.

    You completed a few fine points there. I did a search on the topic and found most persons will consent with your blog.

  21. Anonymous

    July 12, 2015
    1:07 p.m.

    I really prize your work, Great post.

  22. Anonymous

    July 18, 2015
    5:59 a.m.

    I have recently started a website, the info you offer on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.

  23. Anonymous

    July 18, 2015
    8:32 a.m.

    I’ve been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this blog. Thanks, I’ll try and check back more often. How frequently you update your web site?

  24. Anonymous

    July 20, 2015
    11:48 p.m.

    I like the valuable info you supply on your articles. I will bookmark your blog and test once more right here regularly. I’m relatively certain I’ll learn many new stuff proper here! Good luck for the next!

  25. Anonymous

    July 21, 2015
    6:34 a.m.

    Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the images on this blog loading? I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

  26. Anonymous

    July 24, 2015
    11:57 a.m.

    I’ve recently started a web site, the info you offer on this web site has helped me greatly. Thank you for all of your time & work.

  27. Anonymous

    July 24, 2015
    4:29 p.m.

    I have been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this blog. Thanks , I will try and check back more often. How frequently you update your site?

  28. Anonymous

    July 24, 2015
    4:30 p.m.

    Hello there, just became aware of your weblog via Google, and located that it is really informative. I’m going to be careful for brussels. I will be grateful in case you proceed this in future. Lots of other folks might be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!

  29. Anonymous

    July 28, 2015
    10:37 a.m.

    I like this website because so much utile material on here : D.

  30. Anonymous

    July 30, 2015
    1:29 p.m.

    Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your site, how can i subscribe for a blog website? The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea

  31. Anonymous

    July 30, 2015
    3:19 p.m.

    I have been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this blog. Thanks, I will try and check back more often. How frequently you update your website?

  32. Anonymous

    July 31, 2015
    8:13 a.m.

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my site so i came to “return the desire”.I am trying to to find things to enhance my web site!I suppose its adequate to make use of some of your concepts!!

  33. Anonymous

    July 31, 2015
    9:58 a.m.

    Hey, you used to write wonderful, but the last few posts have been kinda boringK I miss your super writings. Past several posts are just a little bit out of track! come on!

  34. Anonymous

    Aug. 2, 2015
    9:57 a.m.

    Regards for helping out, wonderful information. “The four stages of man are infancy, childhood, adolescence, and obsolescence.” by Bruce Barton.

  35. Anonymous

    Aug. 9, 2015
    10:33 p.m.

    Its like you read my thoughts! You appear to grasp so much about this, such as you wrote the ebook in it or something. I feel that you simply can do with a few to drive the message house a little bit, but instead of that, this is great blog. A fantastic read. I’ll certainly be back.

  36. Anonymous

    Aug. 12, 2015
    12:24 p.m.

    This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your magnificent post. Also, I’ve shared your site in my social networks!

  37. Anonymous

    Aug. 17, 2015
    10:48 p.m.

    This web site is really a walk-through for all of the info you wanted about this and didn’t know who to ask. Glimpse here, and you’ll definitely discover it.

  38. Anonymous

    Aug. 24, 2015
    5:01 a.m.

    wonderful post.Ne’er knew this, regards for letting me know.

  39. Anonymous

    Aug. 25, 2015
    6:59 a.m.

    I like this site so much, saved to fav. “American soldiers must be turned into lambs and eating them is tolerated.” by Muammar Qaddafi.

  40. Anonymous

    Aug. 26, 2015
    1:08 a.m.

    Absolutely indited content material, thank you for information. “The last time I saw him he was walking down Lover’s Lane holding his own hand.” by Fred Allen.

  41. Anonymous

    Aug. 29, 2015
    5:04 p.m.

    What’s Happening i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve found It positively helpful and it has helped me out loads. I hope to contribute & aid other users like its aided me. Good job.

  42. Anonymous

    Aug. 29, 2015
    10:01 p.m.

    Very interesting details you have mentioned, thanks for putting up. “The judge is condemned when the criminal is absolved.” by Publilius Syrus.

  43. Anonymous

    Sept. 2, 2015
    12:22 a.m.

    Hello, you used to write excellent, but the last few posts have been kinda boring… I miss your great writings. Past several posts are just a little out of track! come on!

  44. Anonymous

    Sept. 2, 2015
    5:49 a.m.

    HnCmjD You have remarked very interesting details ! ps decent website.

  45. Anonymous

    Sept. 3, 2015
    2:37 a.m.

    JSGQDN there, it was a important place in the court.

  46. Anonymous

    Sept. 7, 2015
    4:04 p.m.

    Some truly nice and useful info on this web site, likewise I conceive the pattern contains excellent features.

  47. Anonymous

    Sept. 8, 2015
    4:20 a.m.

    Thanks for your own work on this blog. Ellie loves getting into investigations and it’s really obvious why. We all notice all concerning the lively mode you make both useful and interesting information by means of this blog and strongly encourage response from other people on that area and our own daughter has always been studying a lot of things. Take pleasure in the remaining portion of the year. You are always conducting a dazzling job.

  48. Anonymous

    Sept. 8, 2015
    12:36 p.m.

    Outstanding post, I think website owners should larn a lot from this blog its really user pleasant.

  49. Anonymous

    Sept. 13, 2015
    6:14 a.m.

    After all, what a great site and informative posts, I will upload inbound link – bookmark this web site? Regards, Reader.

  50. Anonymous

    Sept. 17, 2015
    3:22 a.m.

    Wow, wonderful blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is wonderful, as well as the content!

  51. Anonymous

    Sept. 17, 2015
    12:04 p.m.

    Enjoyed studying this, very good stuff, thanks.

  52. Anonymous

    Sept. 17, 2015
    8:17 p.m.

    Great blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m totally confused .. Any recommendations? Many thanks!

  53. Anonymous

    Sept. 17, 2015
    8:26 p.m.

    Thanks for every other wonderful post. The place else may just anybody get that kind of info in such an ideal manner of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.

  54. primerica insurance agent

    Sept. 19, 2015
    6:01 p.m.

    Thanks for detailed review.. Waiting for future notes

  55. federated insurance florida

    Sept. 19, 2015
    6:37 p.m.

    Whats amazing note here. It would be great to use your info for future posts or comments.

  56. hanover home insurance

    Sept. 19, 2015
    7:53 p.m.

    Make sure you described this totally, because I wish to get more details.

  57. Necole Ruschmeyer

    Sept. 21, 2015
    6:39 a.m.

    This post is very prodigious, just what i was looking for to view on my time out. Thanx

  58. amica mutual insurance

    Sept. 21, 2015
    4:21 p.m.

    We offer you huge discounts, just enter your zip code and save up to 40 percent on auto and home insurance policies. Its easy and fast to do by 5 digit zip code.

  59. american mutual

    Sept. 21, 2015
    4:24 p.m.

    Use our free quotes to get discounts on auto or home insurance. Get quotes by zip code and save up to 505 annually.

  60. amax insurance carrollton

    Sept. 22, 2015
    4:43 p.m.

    Save on cheapest rates with out insurance companies. Get quotes on home and auto insurance by zip code.

  61. amax insurance irving tx

    Sept. 22, 2015
    5:08 p.m.

    Combine & compare to save more on quotes. Get cheapest insurance here

  62. Anonymous

    Sept. 22, 2015
    8:18 p.m.

    I’d have to examine with you here. Which is not one thing I usually do! I take pleasure in reading a post that may make folks think. Additionally, thanks for permitting me to comment!

  63. federated mutual insurance

    Sept. 23, 2015
    11:25 a.m.

    Save more with us and online auto insurance comparison.

  64. Anonymous

    Sept. 23, 2015
    2:54 p.m.

    Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more from this post. I’m very glad to see such fantastic information being shared freely out there.

  65. Anonymous

    Sept. 23, 2015
    10:57 p.m.

    Hey there are using WordPress for your site platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own. Do you require any coding knowledge to make your own blog? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  66. Anonymous

    Sept. 26, 2015
    8:40 a.m.

    I was wondering if you ever considered changing the layout of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two images. Maybe you could space it out better?

  67. cheap insurance companies

    Sept. 28, 2015
    11:49 a.m.

    Compare quotes by zip code instantly. Save up to $520 on combined auto policies!

  68. commercial insurance policy

    Sept. 29, 2015
    5:16 p.m.

    Best quotes in the USA on auto and home insurance. Get quotes by zip code and save on policy!

  69. acuity flagpole

    Oct. 1, 2015
    3:12 p.m.

    Best quotes in the USA on auto and home insurance. Get quotes by zip code and save on policy!

  70. acuity agent login

    Oct. 1, 2015
    3:42 p.m.

    Combine & compare to save more on quotes. Get cheapest insurance here

  71. Anonymous

    Oct. 2, 2015
    8:55 p.m.

    Ese Fuerteventura magia Este aguzamiento durmiente so El aeronauta se despanzurra Aquel compadrazgo guarro. Cuando Fuerteventura apisona Un vigilante patán

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...