Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 31, 2015

Reid Hints at ‘Nuclear’ Summer Over Debate Time (Video) (Updated)

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:30 p.m. | On the morning of his Republican counterpart’s primary back home in Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he would not change the chamber’s rules in his absence.

But Minority Leader Mitch McConnell might well be advised to be prepared for another floor standoff over consideration of nominations, even if its unclear just how much the

Reid took to the floor to reprise familiar complaints about GOP delays of nominations, although some of his examples didn’t appear to be held up today.

“I don’t plan on changing the rules today again, but how much longer can we put up with this? Even law enforcement officers … even law enforcement officers, as I’ve indicated here, they’re holding them up for no reason,” Reid said. “You don’t hear people coming down here giving speeches about what horrible people the president selected to be the U.S. attorney in Louisiana, New Mexico and Connecticut, not a word. They just hide behind their obstruction.”

But not long after, the Senate locked-in a unanimous consent agreement setting up consideration of the three U.S. attorneys on Wednesday, with confirmation for each possible by voice vote.

Reid’s latest comments follow a conversation he said he had Monday with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. about vacancies at the Justice Department. It follows similar statements Reid has made about State Department vacancies, which he referred to again on Tuesday, citing roughly 40 ambassador slots that remain open.

“We have three people who, it’s very important, who want to be U.S. attorneys,” Reid said. “These are people for prosecuting crimes in the states of New Mexico, Louisiana and Connecticut, but they’re being held up. Why? No good reason. These are all good men and women.”

A senior Republican aide said that the three nominees had actually cleared for consideration on the GOP side before Reid’s floor speech, which seemed to be triggered by the conversation with Holder.

“The U.S. attorneys are our nation’s top prosecutors for drug trafficking, bank robbery, counterfeiting,” Reid said.

“They’re not making federal cases out of those cases in New Mexico, Louisiana and Connecticut. Everyone that’s watching what I say today  — that is a shame,” Reid said. “And the reason I mention the attorney general, we have two assistant attorney generals they’re holding up.”

“Eric Holder called me yesterday, and said is there anything that can be done to help me? So again, I’ll have to file cloture on these,” Reid said, calling the time for debate after cloture votes on nominations an “arbitrary number.”

That may prove telling. An agreement last year reduced debate time on the Senate floor for a variety of lower-level positions. What Reid suggested Tuesday is that if there isn’t more time yielded back (or confirmations in large batches by unanimous consent), he may move to curtail that debate time.

Such a move would no doubt infuriate Republicans, and it would likely require a reprise of last November’s use of the “nuclear option” to effectively change the Senate rules by changing precedent with just a simple majority vote.

It would, however, amount to a change in “how a filibuster works,” as President Barack Obama put it in speaking at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraising event just last week.

In response to that comment by Obama, Reid had quipped: “Does he know we already did that?”

Perhaps Reid is contemplating doing it again.

  • daveinboca

    Reid & Obama—dumb & dumber.

    • mikem42

      Let’s debate! Obama and Reid vs McConnell and Boehner. May the best team win, and the losing team shut the hell up and get out of the way of progress in our country. Only one party is obstructing progress, and we all know who that is.

      • Dutch6

        One Party should shut up?
        Maybe the party of welfare should consider doing that and let the party of the producers do the talking….that would really be progress

        • Flying Goat

          I agree… Red states tend to receive more in federal spending than they collect in federal taxes, while for blue, it’s the other way around. Let’s end welfare for red states!

          • mb5599

            wow. still using that debunked “fact”. look it up lib. get educated for a change.

          • Flying Goat

            Actually, I looked it up before making that claim, was true in 2005 and in 2008, didn’t see more recent numbers. It’s certainly not universally true of every state (Texas, for instance, pays in a lot more than it gets back), but it’s a pretty consistent trend.

        • Kevin Schmidt

          The working class are the producers, and the corporate people are the takers.

          • Tim

            Been indoctrinated much?
            Do you have any thoughts that weren’t put there by some liberal rag that has an unhealthy relationship with the truth?

    • Jay

      And the very DUMBEST are the ones who say that.

  • Kevin Schmidt

    Reid should have ended the filibuster eight years ago when the Democrats took back the majority in both houses of Congress.

    Instead, Reid said his top priority was the continued funding of the Iraq war, and Nancy Pelosi took impeachment off the table, thus double crossing the voters, again.

    You think the voters would have learned, but they didn’t. They continue to reelect these two traitors, and also elected Trojan horse Obama.

  • mb5599

    “Reid said his top priority was the continued funding of the Iraq War”????? He was out there saying the war was lost. what kind of dirtbag politician does that?? oh yeah, harry freakin reid.

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