POLITICS: PennAve

Joe Biden backs Harry Reid triggering 'nuclear option'

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Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday said he backed efforts by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to trigger the so-called “nuclear option.”

“Yes, I do,” said Biden, during a visit to a sandwich shop in downtown D.C., where reporters asked him if he backed the filibuster reforms.

Reid on Thursday said he was prepared to propose a change to rules that would block Republicans from forcing a 60-vote threshold and filibustering any nominations other than those for the Supreme Court.

The radical change to Senate rules comes after GOP senators blocked a trio of Obama nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The fight over filibuster rules has been brewing for months though as Republicans delayed a slew of administration nominees. Reid’s change would allow nominees to be confirmed with 51 votes, a bare Senate majority.

“Can anyone say the Senate is working now? I don't think so,” said Reid from the floor early Thursday.

Critics warn that the maneuver could further damage bipartisan relations in the upper chamber.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., slammed the move, and said it would hurt Democrats when they lost control of the chamber.

“You will no doubt come to regret this, and you may regret it a lot sooner than you think,” warned McConnell.

White House press secretary Jay Carney last week declined to endorse triggering the nuclear option, saying only that the administration would “defer to Leader Reid on the actions that ought to be taken in response.”

But Carney urged quick confirmation of the judicial nominees and accused Republicans of playing politics with the nation’s courts.

“The opposition and obstruction that we've seen in the Senate to highly qualified nominees to this court is highly regrettable. The reasons thrown up for that opposition are insincere at best and laughable in general,” said Carney.

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