Opinion

Harry Reid threatens to change Senate rules again to bypass Republicans

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., threatened to change the Senate rules again to bypass the Republican minority, whom he accused of obstructing Senate business for no reason.

"I don't plan on changing the rules today, again, but how much longer can we put up with this?" Reid said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning. "They just hide behind their obstruction."

Reid pulled the trigger on the "nuclear option" last year, breaking the Senate's rules to change them to allow executive branch and most judicial nominees to be confirmed by a simple majority vote, eliminating filibusters. Republicans have responded by slowing down Senate business whenever possible in order to exact a price for having their historic rights as the minority pared down. For instance, they refused to allow Reid to waive the rules about the length of time the Senate must debate a judicial nominee he wanted to confirm before the Easter recess.

"What happens is the majority leader wants to break the Senate rules, which they did by invoking the nuclear option, and then when we're trying to apply the rules allowing for 30 hours [debate] post-cloture, he somehow thinks that's an unreasonable position," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told the Washington Examiner. "So, I think there'd be a lot more bipartisan cooperation, so everybody could be accommodated, but for the extreme position taken on the nuclear option."

Some procedural delays that Reid complained about are rooted in policy, though. For instance, President Obama's diplomatic nominees.

"These are career ambassadors who have worked their whole lives to have one of these jobs," Reid said. "We have major countries where they have held up ambassadors."

Republicans have opposed some of those ambassadorial picks because Obama gave important jobs to people whose chief qualification seemed to be their successes raising money for his presidential campaign.

Noah Mamet, for instance, admitted to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., that he has never been to Argentina even though he wants to be the U.S. ambassador there.

"I don't view this appointment as one -- I think this is a very significant post," Rubio reminded Mamet.

Obama's choice as ambassador to Norway praised Norway's president during a Senate hearing, but Norway doesn't have a president; it's a constitutional monarchy.

And "Colleen Ball, the soap-opera producer who created 'The Bold and the Beautiful' and was chosen by Obama to represent him in Hungary, stammered when identifying U.S. strategic interests in the central European country that shares a border with Ukraine," the Washington Examiner's Susan Crabtree recalled while reporting on the career diplomats angered by such picks.

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