October 25th, 2016

Harry Reid says the Senate is set for the nuclear option

No surprise whatsoever:

Reid, who has previously floated changing the rules in 2017, added to TPM that if Republicans “mess with the Supreme Court, it’ll be changed just like that in my opinion. So I’ve set that up. I feel very comfortable with that.”

In 2013 Senate Democrats changed the filibuster rules on most of Obama’s nominees, allowing them to get approved by a simple majority, but left the 60-vote hurdle intact for Supreme Court nominations.

However, the 2013 shift — the most significant change to Senate floor procedure in decades — has sparked years of backlash from Republicans, who warned that it undercuts a minority party’s ability to block a president’s nomination.

The reason the Democrats are poised to do this isn’t just because they are expecting to take the Senate, it’s because they are also fully expecting to continue to control the presidency with the election of Hillary Clinton. The nuclear option only makes sense when a president is of the same party as those exercising it, as I pointed out about a year ago:

As I said, on the day when Republicans are no longer in control of the Senate, Democrats will jettison the rule themselves if they see a need to do so.

That said, I don’t think McConnell’s objection [to activating the nuclear option last year] is a fake or theatrical one. This would be a huge, huge, and risky step (it’s not called “nuclear” for nothing), and to what end? To have Obama veto any bill that is passed?

When there is a president of the opposite party in the Oval Office, the nuclear option just leads to a veto. That’s the reality of presidential power. And that’s why it didn’t make sense for the Republicans to jettison the rule during the Obama years. They calculated that they didn’t want it in place until 2016, when a Republican became president, as they fully expected to happen prior to the revelations of the 2016 campaign season. Then it would mean something. And if they lost both the presidency and the Senate in 2016 (which looks increasingly likely to happen), they certainly didn’t want it to already be in place at their own hands, so they would have no valid objections to its continuing when it would harm them and benefit the Democrats.

But mark my words: I predict that if Hillary Clinton wins the White House in 2016, and the Senate passes into Democratic hands, and the Democrats in the Senate then go about exercising the nuclear option (I believe all those things will occur), a lot of angry people on the right will yell that it once again proves how wimpy and awful the GOP members of Congress are, because they didn’t do it when Obama was president. The fact that it would have been mostly to no avail because of the veto would probably be lost on most of those people or ignored by them, and in their anger they’ll take it out on the remaining GOP members of Congress and thus guarantee even greater Democratic control of our entire government.

If that sounds gloomy—well, sorry, but I guess it is.

21 Responses to “Harry Reid says the Senate is set for the nuclear option”

  1. Brian E Says:

    “As I said, on the day when Republicans are no longer in control of the Senate, Democrats will jettison the rule themselves if they see a need to do so.”- Neo

    All the more reason to stop the active campaign to defeat Trump and at least acknowledge that a Trump presidency would be more likely to adhere to the rule of law than Hillary, which we already know is flouting the law with her campaign coordination and retaining Lynch as AG along with all the other corruption schemes and just poor judgment she has exhibited during her tenure as Secretary of State.

    Let’s see. Helping elect a lawless President that will likely increase the level of corruption in DC is a strategy that may seem important as a neo-conservative, but not good for the country.

  2. OM Says:

    “All the more reason to stop the active campaign to defeat Trump ….’

    This isn’t Trumpbart. Other opinions are allowed. If that seems upsetting, “sad, sad, so sad.”

  3. Bob_CA Says:

    Neo: “When there is a president of the opposite party in the Oval Office, the nuclear option just leads to a veto. That’s the reality of presidential power. And that’s why it didn’t make sense for the Republicans to jettison the rule during the Obama years. ”

    A factor you leave out is that the Democrats are now filibustering appropriations bills so they will get omnibus budgets like the abomination of Dec. 2015.
    “Failed Spending Bills Pile Up in Senate Amid Dispute Over Budget”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/12/us/politics/failed-spending-bills-pile-up-in-senate-amid-dispute-over-budget-deal.html

    “Democrats begin appropriations blockade, filibustering defense bill” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2015/06/18/democrats-block-defense-spending-bill-filibuster-summer-begins/

    I think that invoking the nuclear option on appropriations bills thus forcing Obama and the Democrats to shut down the government would be to the advantage of the Republicans. I know you disagree but following the 2013 fake shutdown (only 15% of the government shuts down) the Republicans swept the 2014 elections in a historic blowout.

    Correlation is not causation but having the Republicans stand up in 2013 motivated their otherwise demoralized base in 2014.

    Ted Cruz in his book describes in vivid detail what he calls the “Washington cartel” of Democrats and Republicans getting together to scratch each others backs. The lack of any forceful action by McConnell and the Senate Republican leadership on the appropriations filibusters makes me think they like the omnibus budget bills where they can sneak in payoffs to their donors and buddies. Then they tell their constituents that they could not help themselves like Paul Ryan on his appearance on the Bill Bennett show that you often cite.

    I am no Trumper. I already voted and since it does not matter what I do here in CA (538 gives Hillary a 99+% chance of carrying the state) I left the President selection blank. But the feckless Republican leadership in the House and Senate is in no small part responsible for the Trump disaster.

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    Bob_CA:

    We are talking here about the nuclear option for judicial appointments. That is the situation in which it’s been seriously discussed by both Democrats and Republicans.

  5. Cornhead Says:

    Harry will be gone in January but the detestable Chuck Shumer takes his place. Same policy.

  6. sdferr Says:

    For cause I know not wot, the phrase “Harry Reid says” throws me back to a line from Robert Downey Sr.’s film Putney Swope when a character exclaims: “Putney says the Bormann Six Girl has got to have soul! She’s got to have soul!”.

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    Often times the only reason Stalin or Saddam Hussein purged people, was because they refused to support them as the rightful leader of the nation.

    Humans should always be careful in thinking that the Kulaks should be gotten rid of or stopped just because they refuse to give resources and support the Ruling Elites.

  8. Ymarsakar Says:

    The propaganda line against the Kulaks and purge targets are usually that they are “working against the Regime” or “fighting against the Revolution” or “striving to dethrone the status quo”.

    The issue is that when you allow the Kulaks to die off, somebody else becomes the new Siberian political target. Eventually they run through the list and a certain name comes up.

  9. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I agree that if Hillary is elected, as soon as the dems gain control of the Senate, that it is a near certainty that the democrats will go to the nuclear option to get her leftist nominees to the Supreme Court approved.

    In doing so, the dems will once again demonstrate the end of the republic and the further entrenching of that form of democracy in which, “two wolves and a lamb decide what is for dinner”.

    They are driving us toward civil war because when protests get obstreperous enough, they’ll use armed force to impose their agenda upon everyone.

  10. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    OM @ 11:47,

    You mischaracterize an appeal to common sense with a demand for censorship. The question is whether it is intentional or a failure in comprehension.

  11. sdferr Says:

    Save in the case of obstreperous Christians among “us” perhaps, who, one presumes from both the teaching and from historical incident, would prefer martyrdom and other forms of peaceful resistance while maintaining allegiance to their faith. Or do I mistake the intentions of Christianity as to the conditions of this world? Warring — in the ordinary sense of warring — just does not seem to be the point.

  12. Montage Says:

    The biggest issue here is that the GOP doesn’t want to approve of any Supreme Court picks by the Democrats. To the point that they now say they may attempt to block every nominee that Hillary [if she wins] will put forward. That is rather drastic and in modern times unprecedented. When government is this inefficient nothing gets done. You can’t build a wall between the two parties and just stand on your side only.

    Democrats certainly weren’t happy with Ailito or Roberts but they confirmed them. The GOP also confirmed Sotomayor and Kagan. The fact that now the GOP wants to stop all nominations is what is leading to Reid and his nuclear option. Yes, the GOP has brought it upon themselves. They are even blocking Merrick Garland who is rather moderate.

  13. Ymarsakar Says:

    When government is this inefficient nothing gets done.

    That’s a good thing under a tyranny or regime.

  14. Ymarsakar Says:

    Democrats certainly weren’t happy with Ailito or Roberts but they confirmed them.

    Like Kennedy Borked Bork…. yea they confirmed them, based on bribes and deals under the table.

  15. Ymarsakar Says:

    They are driving us toward civil war because when protests get obstreperous enough, they’ll use armed force to impose their agenda upon everyone.-GB

    The Left believes they can win the civil war is because whenever people on the patriotic side called for a war against the Left’s evil, they were ignored or ostracized as crazy or extremist.

    In such a manner, the US patriots gave the impression of being a weakling to the Left, in the same fashion that Hitler perceived of Europe when nobody did anything when he took the Rhineland and then Poland.

    If you wish for peace, prepare for war. But few people want to openly or even behind doors, prepare to war on the Left, their neighbors. TWANLOCs.

    US patriots shouldn’t adopt Islam or the Left’s offensive war as an identity, of course, that would be against Jesus Christ. It may not be against the Pope or the Westboro Baptists or the other so called Christians, but it would be a kind of contention and against the plan of Jesus Christ to raise humanity up via the Holy Spirit.

    So preparing for war just enough to act as deterrence, without going full throttle like the Alt Right and just copy/become the Left, is not an easy line to toe. Most people don’t even bother thinking about it, so they end up being controlled by the fanatics, as usual.

  16. parker Says:

    Montage,

    When Tottenberg describes a nominee as ‘moderate’ history tells me he is similar to the wise latina. Its ok to be a partisan. Its ok to think whatever. IMO Garland would be just another Breyer. No thanks.

  17. Matt_SE Says:

    The execrable Reid also has plausible deniability: he’s retiring. If Dems fail to take the Senate, Schumer can deny that he ever intended to carry out crazy old Harry’s plans, and everyone can sing kumbaya instead.

    Are they actually planning to carry it out? You bet your ass they are.

  18. Big Maq Says:

    “The fact that it would have been mostly to no avail because of the veto would probably be lost on most of those people or ignored by them, and in their anger they’ll take it out on the remaining GOP members of Congress “ – Neo

    It only gets “lost” on them if the “conservative” media also ignores it.

    It is increasingly looking like the dems have outplayed even those pundits who will foment that anger for their own purposes.

    And, in that “anger they’ll take it out on the remaining GOP members of Congress and thus guarantee even greater Democratic control of our entire government.”

  19. Bob_CA Says:

    neo says in reply to my post:
    “We are talking here about the nuclear option for judicial appointments. That is the situation in which it’s been seriously discussed by both Democrats and Republicans.”

    in the original post neo says:
    “When there is a president of the opposite party in the Oval Office, the nuclear option just leads to a veto. ”

    Neo, I am seriously puzzled. In your original post you discuss a presidential veto but then in response to my post you claim that the only option being seriously discussed is judicial appointments. What does a presidential veto have to do with confirming judges?

    Methinks you are sidestepping my points about the poor performance of the GOP leadership being in large part responsible for Trump. We obviously disagree since you think they have performed as best they can given the Democrats holding the presidency.

    I think the founders also disagree with you. The power of the purse was used throughout English history to control the king. There is no power if the House and Senate refuse to shutdown the government.

  20. Ymarsakar Says:

    For me, I eventually came to the conclusion sometime around 2012, that the GOp needed to be purged, in order for the Leftist alliance to be destroyed. And for Islam to be defeated, the Leftist alliance’s power had to be broken.

    As a domino effect, it created an interesting set of priorities. After Palin’s election bid as VP in 2008, things about the GOP became a lot clearer. Although to others, they figured that out later or sooner than 2008.

  21. neo-neocon Says:

    Bob_CA:

    This post was mainly about using the nuclear option for judicial appointments, and that’s what was being discussed by Reid, too.

    But I agree that my talking about the veto power was confusing. The confusion arose from the fact that using the nuclear option to end the rule about invoking cloture and the filibuster for more general topics than judicial appointments has also been discussed in the past (see this, for example). That’s a separate but related issue, and a more general one than the nuclear option’s use for judicial appointments.

    To explain further: the majority party’s using the nuclear option to force approval of judicial appointments only works when that party also has the presidency, when the nuclear option blocks the minority party’s ability to block a president’s judicial appointments. During most of the Obama years, the GOP either was the majority party in the Senate (in which case they were able to block a judicial appointment outright if they wanted to, 2014-present), or had enough votes (minus the nuclear option) to stop the majority Democrats from approving an Obama appointment (but only after Scott Brown’s election, and only barely, until the election of 2010).

    The Democrats already had triggered the nuclear option for judicial appointments in November of 2013, when they still controlled the presidency and the Senate, but the Republicans had enough senators to block appointments under the old rules. When the GOP took control of the Senate in 2014, the nuclear option ceased to make sense, because the GOP could block Obama’s appointments without it (which they did for Garland).

    So, why did I mention veto power? The veto power of Obama would come into play not for judicial appointments, but for other issues, had the Republican majority (after 2014, when they gained the majority) tried to use the nuclear option to stop the minority from having power on topics other than judicial appointments, during the period when the GOP controlled the Senate and Obama was still president. The GOP invoking the nuclear option under those circumstances, post-2014, had been discussed, although not in the present post. It was discussed in particular in regard to the Iran deal, here, in the context of trying to stop the Democrats from blocking a Senate vote to unapprove the Iran deal.

    If Hillary Clinton becomes the next president and the Democrats take control of the Senate with the GOP retaining more than 40 seats, that’s when the nuclear option for judicial appointments (the thing Reid is referring to) would once again come into play. The veto power would not be involved, however.

    This was the quote of mine you found puzzling:

    …how wimpy and awful the GOP members of Congress are, because they didn’t do it when Obama was president. The fact that it would have been mostly to no avail because of the veto would probably be lost on most of those people…

    The “it” I was referring to there was not the GOP deciding to use the nuclear option just for judicial appointments, but their using it more generally for more than judicial appointments (after 2014, when they controlled the Senate), as many people had suggested they should do, although they never did do it. I didn’t make that distinction clear in that previous quote.

    The GOP might have used the nuclear option post-2014—as many people suggested—to force a vote on the Iran deal. That’s when I wrote this:

    As expected, by refusing to vote for cloture, the Democrats shot down McConnell’s latest attempt to get a vote against the Iran deal.

    Also as expected, McConnell has so far refused to exercise the nuclear option, which would merely get the bill on Obama’s desk but could not serve to override his inevitable veto.

    So, to recap, the present post is not about that, it’s about the Democrats using the nuclear option to stop the GOP from stopping President Hillary Clinton’s judicial appointments if she becomes president. But I am predicting that if the Democrats use the nuclear option for that, many people would criticize the GOP for not using it more generally during Obama’s presidency when they might have, not realizing that his veto would have foiled them.

    In addition, the GOP’s being unwilling to shut down the
    government over various issues is a different topic, one that’s been discussed many times on this blog before, so I won’t go into it now.

    But I also think that if Hillary is president and the Democrats control the Senate, there is a good chance they will invoke the nuclear option not just for judicial appointments, but more generally, in order to maximize Democratic power to do things without GOP interference. However, if the GOP retains the House, the Democrats might not be so inclined to go that far, because even with the nuclear option activated in the Senate, the House might be able to thwart the Democratic aims to a certain extent.

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