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Harry Reid still mulling 'nuclear option' on filibusters

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told a Nevada public radio station over the weekend he was still considering acting to change the chamber’s  filibuster rules, citing Republican opposition to President Obama’s agenda:

“All within the sound of my voice, including my Democratic senators and the Republican senators who I serve with, should understand that we as a body have the power on any given day to change the rules with a simple majority, and I will do that if necessary,” Reid says.

The “nuclear option” for a Senate Majority leader harkens back to 2005, when Republican Majority leader – Bill Frist – threatened to do away with delay tactics in the Senate rules unless Democrats dropped opposition to a number of President George W Bush’s judicial nominees.

At the time, Reid opposed such action by Frist. But these days, Reid has his own concerns about vacant judicial posts, as well as other federal appointments being held up by Republican senators, such as the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He appears to be considering options to speed up the process. (Emphasis added.)

“I’m a very patient man. Last Congress and this Congress, we had the opportunity to make some big changes. We made changes, but the time will tell whether they’re big enough. I’m going to wait and build a case,” Reid says. “If the Republicans in the Senate don’t start approving some judges and don’t start helping get some of these nominations done, then we’re going to have to take more action.”

Hat tip: TPM’s Sahil Kapur.

The radio station’s post doesn’t say exactly how Reid would change the rules, though earlier in the year Democrats were discussing the following changes:

Democratic senators led by Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon has proposed a package of rule reforms, including “talking filibusters” that require senators to stand on the floor and talk if they want to block a piece of legislation. A bipartisan group of senators has suggested lesser changes — some of which the Merkley group likes — including limiting filibusters at the beginning of debate on a bill.

Reid on Tuesday presented key elements of his proposals at the weekly Democratic caucus meeting. The proposals include eliminating filibusters on motions to proceed, and an idea proposed by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) that would shift the burden onto the minority by requiring 41 members to vote in order to maintain a filibuster, rather than requiring the majority to find 60 votes to end a filibuster.

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