Reid Pushes 'Nuclear Option' to Change Senate Rules - Vote TonightSubmitted by Michael Nystrom on Mon, 07/15/2013 - 14:38
WASHINGTON — Senator Harry Reid of Nevada took a defiant and uncompromising stand on Monday ahead of a closed-door meeting of the Senate, saying that pushing through a rules change to end filibusters of executive branch nominations would “save the Senate from becoming obsolete.”
“This is a moment in history where circumstances dictate the need for change,” Mr. Reid, the majority leader, said in a speech at the liberal Center for American Progress. He suggested that there was only one way for Republicans to avoid the rules change: give Democrats a straight up-or-down vote on all seven of President Obama’s nominations that are in question and stop filibustering executive nominations going forward.
“I love the Senate, but right now the Senate is broken and needs to be fixed,” he said.
All 100 senators are scheduled to cloister at 6 p.m. Monday in the ornate Old Senate Chamber, doors closed, to hash over Democratic plans to change the Senate’s rules with a simple majority motion as early as Tuesday morning. Mr. Reid’s position could be a bluff. Conversely, a small group of Democratic and Republican senators might yet emerge with a compromise to thwart his plans.
But signals on Monday pointed to the “nuclear option” — that rather than the 67 votes usually needed to change the Senate rules, Democrats would do it with 51, a move that could in the short run eviscerate what comity is left in the chamber, and over the longer term could fundamentally change the institution.