Democrats may be really close to the "Nuclear Option," ending the ability to filibuster judges
Senate Republicans blocked another one of President Barack Obama’s nominees to a key appellate court, enraging Democrats and further raising the prospects of a battle over changing the rules that govern the chamber. . . .
White House press secretary Jay Carney portrayed the persistent GOP resistance to Obama’s D.C. Circuit picks as nothing short of historic. . . .Roll Call magazine:
Democrats inched closer to another “nuclear” rules standoff Tuesday evening on the heels of another filibuster vote on one of President Barack Obama’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Several Democratic senators, led by Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, met with reporters late Tuesday with another round of warnings about the chances that not filling the seats on the appellate court could lead to a “nuclear option” rules debate.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There comes a tipping point, and I’m afraid we’ve reached that tipping point,” Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois said at the news conference. “We cannot ask people in good faith to submit their names and reputations to this judicial process if they’re going to be treated so unfairly and unjustly by the Republicans and their filibusters.” . . .From The Hill newspaper:
Reid “is willing” to change the rules but “the question is whether the leader can get 50 Democrats, not 49 or 48, to sustain that motion.” . . . .
For the first time, Reid has the strong backing of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who had been leery about weakening the power to filibuster judicial nominees.
“I’m glad that I’m not the only one out talking about this,” Reid said last week when asked about the possibility of rules reform. “We have someone who [has] never, ever been upfront on rules changes — that’s Sen. Leahy, who said he’s really disturbed about what’s going on.”
Leahy’s support might help Reid persuade wavering colleagues to strip Republicans of the power to filibuster judicial picks.
“He has the backing of Sen. Leahy, which is huge for this. That’s a really important step,” said a Senate Democratic aide.
Reid came close to triggering the so-called nuclear option in July after Republicans held up Obama’s picks to executive branch agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Labor Relations Board. He backed off the threat after Republicans allowed the nominees to go through. . . . .
Reid came close to triggering the so-called nuclear option in July . . .The Huffington Post has statement from Biden:
Vice President Joe Biden, long a defender of tradition in the United States Senate, said Thursday it might be time to change the institution's rules after Republicans blocked yet another one of President Barack Obama's nominees.
"I think it's worth considering," Biden said after the GOP nixed the appointment of Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to oversee the Federal Housing Finance Agency. . . .Democrats have recently been pushing gutting the filibuster over the debt limit.
Liberals said Tuesday that there may be no other way out of a debt ceiling crisis than to invoke — or at least threaten to employ — the so-called nuclear option, an enormously contentious move that would allow the party to raise the national borrowing limit with 51 votes rather than 60.
Such a move would prompt howls of outrage from Republicans and could have dramatic implications for the future of the Senate. But it would allow Senate Democrats to pass a bill raising the borrowing limit through 2014 and shift the burden to the House GOP before a potentially devastating default on the $16.7 trillion national debt on Oct. 17. . . .Strangely, it isn't clear what the benefit is for Democrats to change this given that the Republicans control the House.
UPDATE: The National Journal indicates that it looks as if the Democrats now have the votes to push through the "nuclear option."