just had his bluff called by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell; Use the nuclear option to change Senate rules for Obama nominees and when the GOP takes control of the U.S. Senate, the GOP will use Reid's new Senate rules against Democrats on everything, including bills.
“There not a doubt in my mind that if the majority breaks the rules of the Senate to change the rules of the Senate with regard to nominations, the next majority will do it for everything,” McConnell said on the floor.
With at least half a dozen key judicial and cabinet nominees pending, all of whom Republicans have problems with, Reid has threatened to invoke the so-called nuclear option to change the rules of the Senate and eliminate the filibuster on nominations — but not anything else.
Backed up by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who echoed his warnings in a floor colloquy Tuesday, McConnell said his hypothetical majority would take it a step further.
“I wouldn’t be able to argue, a year and a half from now if I were the majority leader, to my colleagues that we shouldn’t enact our legislative agenda with a simple 51 votes, having seen what the previous majority just did,” he said. “I mean there would be no rational basis for that.”
The minority leader sketched out what a Republican-led Senate would do with 51 votes. Job No. 1, he said, would be to repeal Obamacare. He also mentioned lifting the ban on oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, approving the Keystone XL pipeline and repealing the estate tax (which he called the “death tax”).
This is a no-win situation for Reid, because while the nuclear option to change the Senate rules on filibuster's would guarantee the Democratically controlled Senate could bypass Republican opposition to Obama's nominee choices, regular bills would still have to make it through the Republican controlled House of Representatives in order to become law. The GOP has already made it clear that no bill passed by the Senate under those rules would even be considered in the House.
The threat has teeth since in the upcoming 2014 midterm elections, 23 Democratic seats are on the ballot and only 10 Republican seats. The majority of the Republican seats are considered pretty safe by handicappers, while many of the Democratic ones are seen as vulnerable.
Republicans need a net gain of six seats to take control of the Senate, so Reid risks losing the ability to filibuster if his party becomes the minority in the 2014 midterm elections..