Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 2, 2015

Reid to Set Up Next Moves in Latest ‘Nuclear Option’ Staredown

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he plans to have two more test votes on nominations to the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals by the end of the week.

The move is intended to determine whether Republicans will follow through on their threat to filibuster judicial picks Nina Pillard and Robert Wilkins. If they do, as seems likely, the Nevada Democrat has said he may revive his own threat to end the minority’s ability to filibuster nominations through the so-called nuclear option. Several Republicans brokered a deal with Reid in July to avert the nuclear option.

But on Tuesday, Reid said he would likely set the procedural gears in motion for the Pillard and Wilkins votes. He had already indicated that weekend work would be possible between Veterans Day and Thanksgiving.

Republicans have already blocked the nomination of Patricia Ann Millett to the first of three open seats on the appeals panel.

“I’m glad that I’m not the [only] one out talking about this,” Reid said of the judicial nominations debate. “The vice president talked about maybe it’s time to do something, and we have someone who has never ever been out front … Sen. [Patrick J.] Leahy, who said he was very concerned about what’s going on.”

In addition to the comments made last week by Leahy, the Judiciary chairman, California Democrat Barbara Boxer is expressing openness to a rules changes for the process for judicial nominees.

“I don’t want to change the rules, but I am open to it if Republicans keep obstructing,” Boxer said in a brief statement to CQ Roll Call.

There’s long been concern among some supporters of abortion rights about deploying the nuclear option for lifetime appointments to the federal bench, because a Republican White House could team up with a future GOP-led Senate to confirm judicial nominees hostile to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Asked Tuesday if he thought the filibusters of Millett and Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C., to run the Federal Housing Finance Agency broke the terms of the July agreement to avert the ‘nuclear option,’ Reid hearkened back to an earlier debate.

“I’m not as concerned about what happened this past July,” Reid said of his most recent deal with Republicans. Instead, he referred back to the 2005 “gang of 14″ agreement on judicial nominations. Reid said he saw no substantive opposition to Millett’s nomination to a seat on the D.C. Circuit, dismissing the suggestion that her nomination qualified as an “extraordinary circumstance” under the terms of the 2005 deal.

Arizona Republican John McCain, who brokered the July deal and was also a member of the 2005 group, had explicitly referenced the extraordinary circumstances provision in a floor speech announcing opposition to moving forward with the Millett nomination last week.

GOP senators contend that the D.C. Circuit does not have a heavy enough caseload to merit filling the three vacant seats, but Senate Democrats argue they are simply filling vacancies to a court with a complex responsibility over federal regulations.

Comments (7)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

author email

  1. Biff Wellington

    Nov. 6, 2013
    8:36 p.m.

    I’m all for a nuclear option, as long as it involve Harry Reid’s house, and while he’s in it….

  2. Anonymous

    July 7, 2015
    11:10 a.m.

    I was just looking for this information for some time. After 6 hours of continuous Googleing, at last I got it in your web site. I wonder what’s the lack of Google strategy that don’t rank this type of informative websites in top of the list. Usually the top web sites are full of garbage.

  3. Anonymous

    July 9, 2015
    5:26 a.m.

    Merely wanna input on few general things, The website design and style is perfect, the articles is really superb. “Some for renown, on scraps of learning dote, And think they grow immortal as they quote.” by Edward Young.

  4. Anonymous

    July 12, 2015
    2:30 p.m.

    This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

  5. Anonymous

    July 18, 2015
    6:16 a.m.

    You should take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I will recommend this site!

  6. Anonymous

    July 19, 2015
    9:06 a.m.

    You completed a number of nice points there. I did a search on the issue and found mainly people will agree with your blog.

  7. Anonymous

    July 31, 2015
    4:28 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!

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...