Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Harry Reid is giving Senate Republicans one more chance before launching the nuclear option

Senator Harry Reid
Senate majority leader Harry Reid entered closed door session Monday evening with Minority leader Mitch McConnell and other Senators interested in avoiding the "nuclear option" being threatened by Reid which would likely change Senate filibuster rules solely by Democratic votes.  

Because Republicans in the Senate have caused an unprecedented number of filibusters, some of which are directed toward obstruction of President Obama's appointments to key federal agencies, Reid has hinted that the rules around Presidential appointments might be changed to allow a simple majority vote for approval.  Currently, appointments must be approved by 2/3 of the Senate, or 67 Senators.  Additionally, the rules change could also reduce the number of votes necessary to overcome a filibuster.

Reid's urgency to adopt a rules change is the result of the Republican disruption of government affairs.  There are a good number of federal agencies that cannot function properly without the appointees who are being blocked.  Republicans have publicly announced that they do not have a problem with the appointees, but they are opposing the appointments because they are trying to change the mandates of and prevent affected agencies from being effective.  To paraphrase, Republicans believe this conspiracy to obstruct government affairs is necessary in order to mold government into one that would better serve their constituents.

What has been disclosed about the meeting thus far indicates that no agreement has been reached that will prevent the nuclear option.   Senator Reid will test the stubborn determination of the Republicans in blocking President Obama's appointees by calling for a vote to approve some critical bureau appointees in Tuesday's Senate session.

Among these appointees is Richard Cordray, acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  If Republicans block this appointment, Reid will go ballistic and initiate the nuclear option.  It is not clear if Reid will still go nuclear if all of the previously blocked appointees are still blocked by Republicans.   See the details about the CFPB here.

During the meeting, some Republican Senators were still expecting to get the advantages they have been fighting for by offering empty compromises.  For example, they offered approving Richard Cordray provided the CFPB could be changed the way that Republicans wanted it.  

Reid has said that if the rules change is enacted, only Presidential appointments would be affected by the simple majority rule and not all Senate business.  Some are concerned that such a change could be used against Democratic  introduced legislation, such as ObamaCare if Republicans take the Senate majority after the 2014 elections.

Opinion is that the chance for the nuclear option is high, particularly because of the blockage of the appointees to the National Labor Relations board.  Republicans want to eliminate that agency and approving the appointees is the furthest thing from their minds.

Senator McCain is trying to strike up a deal with other Republicans and Senator Reid to stave off the nuclear option and is leaning toward approving the appointees.  Senator McCain was not sure what the outcome would be.

So we wait.  The one thing that seems most certain is this: if an agreement does not happen before tomorrow's vote and Republicans still block the appointments, the nuclear option will be used.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Best fark comment:

You mean Origami Harry Reid.

All he'll do is fold.
— Jakomo002