Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 3, 2015

Uncertain ‘Nuclear’ Fallout in Senate

 (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Just how much fallout will Majority Leader Harry Reid’s deployment of the “nuclear option” have for the Senate?

That will be the key question when the Senate returns from what’s scheduled to be a two-week recess for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. The Nevada Democrat said he was left with no choice but to effectively change the rules with a simple majority vote after Republicans filibustered three consecutive nominees by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — positions some Republicans argue shouldn’t exist at the moment.

The move means Obama will be able to get high-profile nominations and judgeships approved at least through the midterm elections. But Reid surely knows that the wildly controversial move invites a retaliatory response from Senate Republicans, though they’ve thus far demurred from identifying exactly what they may do.

“I don’t think this is a time to be talking about the reprisal,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters shortly after the procedural votes that enshrined the “nuclear” maneuver in the Senate’s precedents. “I think it’s a time to be sad about what’s been done to the United States Senate, the greatest deliberative body in the world.”

What the Kentucky Republican said next sheds some light onto why the retaliatory strike might be neither obvious nor proportional.

“There’s a lot of nervousness on the Democratic side. They’re in a panic about Obamacare. The majority leader desperately tried to change the subject,” McConnell said. “We want to get back on the subject. For most Americans, what they’re thinking about right now is they’re losing their health insurance. Their premiums are going up. Jobs are being lost. And we need to talk about what the American people are most concerned about.”

If Senate Republicans want to see the focus back on health care, trying to shut down the Senate with retaliatory tactics would seem counterproductive. And going overboard on retaliation might only invite Reid to clamp down even more on the rules to boot.

During the previous nuclear standoff in July, Sen. Lamar Alexander warned Democrats that Republicans would take the case to the voters, arguing that in a future Senate, they could use the same procedural tactic to do away with supermajority requirements to overcome legislative filibusters.

“It will turn this into a national debate about who controls the new majority institution in our country, because we’ll have a new one for the first time in 230 years, the United States Senate, and we Republicans want to be able to do with 51 votes whatever we can think of to do, any day we want to do it,” the Tennessee Republican said, noting his wish list would include repealing Obamacare and opening the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository.

Asked about his next move, Alexander — who helped negotiate the way out of the July rules change threat — said, “I’m going to start by reminding the American people the election is the cure for this problem.”

For his part, Reid dismissed the idea that changing the rules of the game raised the stakes for the midterms.

“If you look around the country, we’re doing pretty well,” Reid said in reference to the 2014 map, before saying of the move to curtail filibusters of nominees: “This won’t be much of a story in a week or two.”

Reid appeared at peace with his decision Monday in an interview with NPR, while acknowledging that at some point the filibuster may end entirely, and not just for nominations.

“If some future leader decides that’s what they want to do, then they can have a vote before the full Senate and decide if that’s what they want to do,” Reid said. “The Senate is a democratic body; it always has been. We work on collegiality just like judges do. But there comes a time when collegiality breaks down and you have to do something.”

That said, Republicans will have no shortage of opportunities to throw wrenches into the works. It still takes 60 votes to invoke cloture on legislative business. And the deployment of the “nuclear” option didn’t wipe away the time hurdles for confirming nominations — it just changed the vote threshold to a simple majority for all the nominations short of the Supreme Court.

That means it still won’t be feasible for Reid to go through the cloture process to confirm every routine nominee, meaning that blanket holds like the one floated by South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham over the investigation of the attack in Benghazi, Libya, would remain relevant.

Any senator could also force formal approval of the previous day’s proceedings and prevent committees from conducting business past the first two hours of the day.

Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy also has not changed his policy of stringent adherence to the committee’s “blue slip” practice, which requires both senators from a home state to return a slip allowing the committee to consider the nominee.

“I assume no one will abuse the blue-slip process like some have abused the use of the filibuster to block judicial nominees on the floor of the Senate,” the Vermont Democrat said in a statement, suggesting that changes would come only if abuse arises.

The most widely publicized blue-slip problem in recent years involved Reid and Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller. Heller blocked the advancement of Elissa Cadish to be a federal judge in Nevada, a nominee favored by Reid, citing concerns with her views on the Second Amendment.

The first big test may come with the fate of the fiscal 2014 defense authorization bill, which would need an expedited process to enactment. Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin reminded reporters last week that wouldn’t be a first.

“One year we did this by unanimous consent on the last day of the session, so I’m far from giving up, believe me,” the Michigan Democrat said after the Senate rejected a bid by Reid to limit debate.

Comments (37)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

author email

  1. foosion

    Nov. 25, 2013
    3:20 p.m.

    Before – Rs were doing everything they could to oppose the Ds.

    After – ?

    • pitch1934

      Nov. 25, 2013
      8:25 p.m.

      R’s will still be doing everything they can to oppose the D’s.

    • Tom

      Nov. 26, 2013
      9:08 a.m.

      Ds are doing everything they can to oppose the American people.

  2. Defend The Constitution

    Nov. 27, 2013
    4:26 p.m.

    While genetic traits are inherited from the two parents, cultural traits are learned from influences such as family, friends, and media.

  3. Rick Turner

    Nov. 28, 2013
    9:03 a.m.

    “This will be a story for a week or two” Dirty Harry. Delusional and what they have done is give the R’s the means by which to change everything they want when 2014 and 2016 provide them all branches of gov’t.

  4. George Allegro

    Nov. 30, 2013
    3:14 p.m.

    If we can make use of more knowledge than we actually know, we can overcome our natural ignorance & create useful things.

  5. Liberalism is Nonsense

    Dec. 3, 2013
    2:29 a.m.

    Those of us who recognize that civilization’s natural order is the result of forces beyond our control also tend to understand Socrates’ observation that the recognition of ignorance is the beginning of wisdom.

  6. Anonymous

    June 27, 2015
    3:57 a.m.

    There is noticeably a bundle to know about this. I feel you made various nice points in features also.

    http://www.sdorttuiiplmnr.com/

  7. Anonymous

    July 2, 2015
    1:51 p.m.

    This blog is definitely rather handy since I’m at the moment creating an internet floral website – although I am only starting out therefore it’s really fairly small, nothing like this site. Can link to a few of the posts here as they are quite. Thanks much. Zoey Olsen

    http://produk2me.weebly.com/

  8. Anonymous

    July 4, 2015
    11:25 a.m.

    fantastic post.Ne’er knew this, thanks for letting me know.

    http://www.furtdsolinopv.com/

  9. Anonymous

    July 7, 2015
    10:08 p.m.

    This design is spectacular! You definitely know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Wonderful job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

    http://www.dibugs.com/profile/mimosastore9/?updated=true

  10. Anonymous

    July 9, 2015
    10:45 a.m.

    Very interesting topic, thanks for posting.

    https://bitly.com/u/infoasistencia

  11. Anonymous

    July 12, 2015
    2:53 p.m.

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

    http://www.sdorttuiiplmnr.com/

  12. Anonymous

    July 19, 2015
    9:30 a.m.

    My brother recommended I might like this web site. He was totally right. This publish truly made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how so much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

    http://www.sdorttuiiplmnr.com/

  13. Anonymous

    July 21, 2015
    5:17 a.m.

    I truly enjoy examining on this internet site, it contains good content. “Never fight an inanimate object.” by P. J. O’Rourke.

    http://lowcostautoquotes.com/low-cost-car-insurance.html

  14. Anonymous

    July 24, 2015
    6:54 a.m.

    I really like your writing style, superb info , regards for posting : D.

    http://split.us

  15. Anonymous

    July 24, 2015
    11:59 p.m.

    Your style is so unique compared to many other people. Thank you for publishing when you have the opportunity,Guess I will just make this bookmarked.2

    https://bestplumbers.com

  16. Anonymous

    July 25, 2015
    6:34 p.m.

    hi!,I like your writing so much! share we communicate more about your post on AOL? I need an expert on this area to solve my problem. May be that’s you! Looking forward to see you.

    http://iphone-news.ch/forum/discussion/28024/home-insurance-india-premium-calculator

  17. Anonymous

    July 25, 2015
    6:38 p.m.

    You are my intake, I have few blogs and occasionally run out from to post : (.

    http://wikilixodigital.ecomp.poli.br/wiki/index.php?title=Va_Home_Loan_Calculator_With_Taxes_And_Insurance

  18. Anonymous

    July 28, 2015
    7:08 a.m.

    Nice read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch since I found it for him smile Therefore let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch! “By nature, men are nearly alike by practice, they get to be wide apart.” by Confucius.

    http://www.sdorttuiiplmnr.com/

  19. Anonymous

    July 30, 2015
    1:52 p.m.

    I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one these days..

    http://stylewithshannon.com/design-tattoo-chinese-lettering-make-a-custom-chinese-lettering-tattoo-for-an-affordable-price/

  20. Anonymous

    July 31, 2015
    5:05 p.m.

    With havin so much written content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright infringement? My website has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either written myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my agreement. Do you know any solutions to help stop content from being ripped off? I’d truly appreciate it.

    http://domweselnywarszawa.eu/

  21. Anonymous

    Aug. 2, 2015
    5:28 p.m.

    Amazing blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog shine. Please let me know where you got your theme. Thanks

    http://www.consultdustry.com/vacancies/

  22. Anonymous

    Aug. 6, 2015
    9:21 a.m.

    I’ve been surfing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be much more useful than ever before.

    http://quotesautoinsurance.org/compare-auto-insurance-rates-by-zip-code.html

  23. Anonymous

    Aug. 7, 2015
    1:54 a.m.

    I like the helpful information you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your weblog and check again here regularly. I’m quite certain I’ll learn a lot of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

    http://www.sdorttuiiplmnr.com/

  24. Anonymous

    Aug. 7, 2015
    9:37 a.m.

    My wife and i got very excited when Peter managed to conclude his investigations with the precious recommendations he got from your web pages. It’s not at all simplistic to just be freely giving concepts which usually the rest may have been trying to sell. We acknowledge we have the writer to thank because of that. All the explanations you have made, the easy blog menu, the friendships you will help foster – it’s got mostly excellent, and it’s really aiding our son in addition to the family reason why this topic is pleasurable, and that’s wonderfully indispensable. Thank you for the whole lot!

    http://quotesautoinsurance.org/compare-auto-insurance-rates-by-zip-code.html

  25. Anonymous

    Aug. 9, 2015
    7:11 p.m.

    I truly appreciate this post. I have been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You have made my day! Thank you again

    http://brookereviews.com/product/ehealthinsurance-reviews-why-i-choose-ehealthinsurance-services/

  26. Anonymous

    Aug. 9, 2015
    10:08 p.m.

    A powerful share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing slightly evaluation on this. And he the truth is bought me breakfast as a result of I discovered it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love studying extra on this topic. If possible, as you turn out to be experience, would you mind updating your blog with extra particulars? It is highly useful for me. Massive thumb up for this weblog post!

    http://brookereviews.com/product/ehealthinsurance-review-why-ehealthinsurance-plan-is-one-of-the-top-health-insurance-plans-in-2015/

  27. Anonymous

    Aug. 12, 2015
    6:06 p.m.

    Very interesting details you have noted, regards for posting. “You can tell the ideas of a nation by it’s advertisements.” by Douglas South Wind.

    http://topcheapinsurance.com/companies-insurance-united-states.html

  28. Anonymous

    Aug. 24, 2015
    12:35 p.m.

    It?¦s really a nice and helpful piece of info. I?¦m satisfied that you simply shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

    http://quotesautoinsurance.org/primerica-insurance.html

  29. Anonymous

    Aug. 25, 2015
    11:12 a.m.

    Would you be desirous about exchanging links?

    http://m24-dla-mlodych.pl/plytki-panele-elektronarzedzia/

  30. Anonymous

    Aug. 25, 2015
    2:32 p.m.

    There is noticeably a bundle to learn about this. I assume you made sure nice factors in options also.

    http://prezentnachrzciny.blog.pl/?attachment_id=31

  31. Anonymous

    Aug. 26, 2015
    2:39 a.m.

    Hello, Neat post. There’s a problem together with your web site in web explorer, could check thisK IE nonetheless is the marketplace leader and a big section of other folks will leave out your excellent writing due to this problem.

    http://topcheapinsurance.com/travelers-home-and-auto-insurance.html

  32. Anonymous

    Aug. 26, 2015
    2:41 a.m.

  33. Anonymous

    Sept. 2, 2015
    4:22 a.m.

    I am impressed with this web site, really I am a fan.

    http://www.newlaunch-condo.sg/the-criterion-ec/

  34. Anonymous

    Sept. 2, 2015
    12:33 p.m.

    Yeah bookmaking this wasn’t a risky decision great post! .

    http://eblogtip.com

  35. Anonymous

    Sept. 2, 2015
    6:27 p.m.

    Hello there, I found your web site via Google while looking for a related topic, your site came up, it looks good. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

    http://lowcostautoquotes.com

Sign In

Forgot password?

Or

Subscribe

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

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...