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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Harry Reid, 2005, Was Against 'Nuclear Option' Before He Was For It

By Susan Duclos

Yesterday Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, called Senate majority leader Harry Reid's bluff on using what is referred to as the "nuclear option" to change the rules of the Senate to prevent the minority party from filibustering, but Reid was singing a far different tune in 2005 on the floor of the Senate when the shoe was on the other foot.

From yesterday's Wake up America piece:

Senate majority leader Harry Reid 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.

While liberals would remind their readers that Republicans threatened to do the same, but didn't, in 2005, it is noteworthy to mention that Harry Reid has also changed his stance from 2005 when he was adamantly opposed to using the nuclear option to change he Senate rules.

Excerpts below from the Floor Statement of Senator Reid on Nuclear Option, April 26, 2005:

For the past several months, the Senate has operated under a nuclear cloud. As a result of the Senate’s decision to reject a small number of President Bush’s judicial nominees, the Republican majority has threatened to break the Senate rules, violate over 200 years of Senate tradition and impair the ability of Democrats and Republicans to work together on issues of real concern to the American people.  

Hmmmmm, exactly what Reid is proposing now.

My Republican colleagues claim that nominees are entitled to an up-down vote. That claim ignores history, including recent history. Throughout the years, many judicial nominees have been denied up-down votes. For example, according to the Senate Historian, Republicans filibustered Lyndon Johnson’s nomination of Abe Fortas to be Chief Justice.
Yet Reid is the one demanding up-down votes on Obama nominees and threatening the "nuclear option" to get them.

The American people have rejected the nuclear option because they see it for what it is — an unconstitutional abuse of power.

Regardless of political affiliation, Americans understand that this is a partisan power grab.....

Exactly... finally something I can agree with Reid about.

Democrats stand united against the unconstitutional nuclear option. We have a responsibility to protect checks and balances, not violate them.....


I want to emphasize that any potential compromise is contingent on a commitment that the nuclear option will not be exercised in any form during this Congress. The threat to break the Senate rules must end. 

Flashback- Reid already used the nuclear option to avoid a political embarrassment for his party, in 2011:

On Thursday night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) triggered the so-called nuclear option — unilaterally changing Senate rules by a simple majority vote to stop the minority from forcing votes on uncomfortable amendments. It’s the same tactic the majority would use to undercut the minority’s ability to filibuster. And that’s why it’s called “nuclear” — it dramatically alters the balance of power between the majority and minority. It is not a step to be taken lightly.

What great matter drove Reid to push the nuclear button? Apparently Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) was threatening to force a vote on the original version of President Obama’s jobs bill, to show how few Democrats were willing to support it. In other words, Reid invoked the nuclear option to avoid a political embarrassment for his party.

Again from yesterday's WuA post:

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.

Go for it Harry. Personally I would find it very entertaining to see Reid whine continuously about fairness if Republicans take control of the Senate in 2014 or 2016 and use Reid's very own rule changes to gag the Democrats in the Senate.

That would be irony.