Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) shocked Democrats across America last November when he successfully removed the filibuster for all executive nominees. Fed up after years of Republican obstructionism that stalled a disproportionately high number of President Obama’s nominees, he defeated the Republicans with a vote —save for three Democrats — that fell along party lines. In a move that proves nuclear testing has not been completely banned in Nevada, Reid is now brandishing the idea that the filibuster be fully removed from Senate voting rules.
Speaking with Bob Schieffer on yesterday’s CBS News program “Face The Nation,” Reid expressed his frustration with Republican rumblings that promised more of the same stonewalling tactics used in last fall’s government shutdown if they don’t get their way. As transcribed:
[box type=”shadow”]BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just ask you this: I mean listening to you this morning if the Republicans continue to throw up the kind of opposition you’ve been receiving, you say you’ve been receiving, do you have plans to extend this ban on filibusters? Right now you’ve worked out this rule which they vehemently oppose that — so they — it’s very difficult for him to filibuster nominations. Would you be willing to just go to a Senate where just majority rules and that’s it?
SENATOR HARRY REID: Well, Bob, I think it’s something that we have to understand.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So you’re thinking about that?
SENATOR HARRY REID: We cannot have a country that’s paralyzed because of a group of people, the group of people who are like Tea Party-driven Republicans in Congress, not Republicans. I’m not here to bad mouth the Republicans around the country. I get a lot of support from Republicans in Nevada, and always have had. But they are mainstream Republicans. They’re not driven by this craziness that we have in American today. So the answer is this: We– we– we should pass raising the minimum wage. We should extend unemployment benefits. We should get rid of these tax loopholes and create jobs so the middle class can– can start growing, not shrinking.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But would you do away with filibusters entirely?
SENATOR HARRY REID: Well, I’m — we’re not there yet. I think that we…
BOB SCHIEFFER: I mean are you even thinking about that?
SENATOR HARRY REID: No, I’m not thinking about it today. But I think…
BOB SCHIEFFER: You’re saying you’re holding that out. Is — that is a possibility?
SENATOR HARRY REID: I think everyone should understand that the country cannot continue on the road that it’s on. It cannot have– you cannot have when you have vacancies in the judiciary as we’ve had, DC Circuit, some say it’s more important than the Supreme Court. But it’s, at least, the second most important. They said we’re not going to fill these spots because we don’t want to. You can’t. That’s not the way we legislate.[/box]
Like anything nuclear, metaphorical or otherwise, there is great risk. A simple Republican majority in the Senate could obstruct a Democratic president without half the theatrics. Democrats may be safe from gerrymandering in the Senate, but they are not safe from the whims of voters. Republicans oppose the nuclear option because they know a president from their party would face easy opposition from a Democratic Senate. For now, eliminating the filibuster across the board is the least worst of Harry Reid’s options, if only to put a nail in the Tea Party’s coffin in Congress forever.
As with all things Harry Reid, this is wait-and-see stuff, but regardless, well worth watching as we slog through the winter.