Reid continues to say that the nuclear option in the Senate is on the table:
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) July 15, 2013
End the gridlock eh? I seem to recall a time when the Democrats were in the minority during Bush’s tenure and during that time Reid and pals made gridlock a household name.
Senate Democrats mounted an unprecedented filibuster campaign against Bush’s judicial nominees. According to The Heritage Foundation’s Todd Gaziano, the average number of days a Court of Appeals nominee waited for final Senate action grew from 39 during the Reagan Presidency, 95 during the George H. W. Bush Presidency, and 115 during the Clinton Presidency to 400 during the first 22 months of the second Bush presidency.
400 days of gridlock on average. This tactic had Republicans suggesting the nuclear option and the Democrats were aghast:
Barack Obama 4/25/05: “The President hasn’t gotten his way. And that is now prompting a change in the Senate rules that really I think would change the character of the Senate forever…what I worry about would be that you essentially still have two chambers the House and the Senate but you have simply majoritarian absolute power on either side, and that’s just not what the founders intended.”
Hillary Clinton 5/23/2005: “So this president has come to the majority here in the Senate and basically said ‘change the rules.’ ‘Do it the way I want it done.’ And I guess there just weren’t very many voices on the other side of the isle that acted the way previous generations of senators have acted and said ‘Mr. President we are with you, we support you, but that’s a bridge too far we can’t go there.’ You have to restrain yourself Mr. President.”
Charles Schumer 5/18/2005: “We are on the precipice of a crisis, a constitutional crisis. The checks and balances which have been at the core of this Republic are about to be evaporated by the nuclear option. The checks and balances which say that if you get 51% of the vote you don’t get your way 100% of the time. It is amazing it’s almost a temper tantrum.”
Harry Reid 5/18/2005: “Mr. President the right to extended debate is never more important than the one party who controls congress and the white house. In these cases the filibuster serves as a check on power and preserves our limited government.”>
Dianne Feinstein 5/18/2005: “The nuclear option if successful will turn the senate into a body that could have its rules broken at any time by a majority of senators unhappy with any position taken by the minority. It begins with judicial nominations. Next will be executive appointments and then legislation.”
Joe Biden 5/23/2005: “This nuclear option is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power. It is a fundamental power grab.”
Harry Reid 5/18/2005: “But no we are not going to follow the Senate rules. No, because of the arrogance of power of this Republican administration.”
Chris Dodd 5/18/2005: “I’ve never passed a single bill worth talking about that didn’t have a lead co-sponsor that was a Republican. And I don’t know of a single piece of legislation that’s ever been adopted here that didn’t have a Republican and Democrat in the lead. That’s because we need to sit down and work with each other. The rules of this institution have required that. That’s why we exist. Why have a bicameral legislative body? Why have two chambers? What were the framers thinking about 218 years ago? They understood Mr. President that there is a tyranny of the majority.”
Dianne Feinstein 5/18/2005: “If the Republican leadership insists on forcing the nuclear option the senate becomes ipso facto the House of Representatives where the majority rules supreme and the party of power can dominate and control the agenda with absolute power.”
Hillary Clinton 5/23/2005: “You’ve got majority rule and then you have the senate over here where people can slow things down where they can debate where they have something called the filibuster. You know it seems like it’s a little less than efficient — well that’s right it is. And deliberately designed to be so.”
Joe Biden 5/23/05: “I say to my friends on the Republican side you may own the field right now but you won’t own it forever I pray God when the Democrats take back control we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing.”
Charles Schumer 5/23/2005: “They want their way every single time. And they will change the rules, break the rules, and misread the constitution so that they will get their way.”
Hillary Clinton 5/23/2005: “The Senate is being asked to turn itself inside out, to ignore the precedent to ignore the way our system has work, the delicate balance that we have obtain that has kept this constitution system going, for immediate gratification of the present President.”
Max Baucus 5/19/2005: “This is the way Democracy ends. Not with a bomb but with a gavel.”
Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and they pulled that option off the table.
But now that gridlock is being used as a tactic by the minority once again (if you play the game expect the game to be played right back at you when its the others side turn at bat) Reid says the nuclear option is a good thing.
But remember, when you play the game…here’s poll guru Nate Silver:
This weekend’s announcement by the former governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer, that he would not seek that state’s Democratic nomination for Senate represents the latest in a series of favorable developments for Republicans as they seek control of the chamber.
The G.O.P.’s task will not be easy: the party holds 46 seats in the Senate, and the number will very probably be cut to 45 after a special election in New Jersey later this year. That means that they would need to win a net of six contests from Democrats in order to control 51 seats and overcome Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s tiebreaking vote. Two years ago at this time, Republicans faced what seemed to be a promising environment and could have won the Senate by gaining a net of three seats from Democrats and winning the presidency. Instead, Mitt Romney lost to President Obama, and the G.O.P. lost a net of two Senate seats.
But Montana along with West Virginia and South Dakota — two other red states where an incumbent Democrat has retired and where the Democrats have not identified a strong candidate to replace them – gives Republicans a running start. Republicans could then win three more seats from among red states like Louisiana and Arkansas, where vulnerable Democratic incumbents are on the ballot, or they could take aim at two purple states, Iowa and Michigan, where Democrats have retired. More opportunities could also come into play if the national environment becomes more favorable to Republicans (such as because of a further slide in Mr. Obama’s approval ratings). Meanwhile, while Kentucky and Georgia are possibly vulnerable, Republicans have few seats of their own to defend; unlike in 2012, they can focus almost entirely on playing offense.
A race-by-race analysis of the Senate, in fact, suggests that Republicans might now be close to even-money to win control of the chamber after next year’s elections. Our best guess, after assigning probabilities of the likelihood of a G.O.P. pickup in each state, is that Republicans will end up with somewhere between 50 and 51 Senate seats after 2014, putting them right on the threshold of a majority.
The Democrats won’t be the majority forever, and when the Republicans take the Senate…expect the game to come back to you tenfold.
While Mr. Reid argues that the change is a simple one, applying only to presidential appointments, Republicans are already threatening to expand its scope should they win back the majority. They say they will take a broader view of the concept that a simple majority can alter the Senate’s rules.
The Republicans pulled it off the table, it’s time for the Democrats to do the same. If not….game on.