The Price Reid Will Pay for Going Nuclear

The move allows him more leeway on nominees, but it will make it more difficult for him to do just about anything else.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) talks to reporters about the use of the 'nuclear option' at the U.S. Capitol November 21.
National Journal
Patrick Reis and Matt Berman
See more stories about...
Patrick Reis Matt Berman
Nov. 22, 2013, 4:30 a.m.

Harry Re­id won a great vic­tory Thursday by ram­ming through the nuc­le­ar op­tion, but it’s a vic­tory he’ll pay for for the rest of his ca­reer.

Re­pub­lic­ans — furi­ous over Re­id’s nuc­le­ar man­euver — have more in­cent­ive than ever to find new ways to make trouble. And so, while Re­id now has more lever­age to move most nom­in­ees, he’ll find new hurdles when he tries to do just about any­thing else.

The on­slaught star­ted Thursday, when Demo­crats asked for un­an­im­ous con­sent to move le­gis­la­tion re­new­ing severe re­stric­tions on non­met­al fire­arms that es­cape de­tec­tion from met­al de­tect­ors. The le­gis­la­tion is largely non­con­tro­ver­sial, and it was ini­tially ex­pec­ted to pass without in­cid­ent.

But Alabama Re­pub­lic­an Jeff Ses­sions ob­jec­ted to the un­an­im­ous-con­sent ar­range­ment, say­ing that it was the wrong time to move the bill. In­stead, the meas­ure will lan­guish at least un­til the Sen­ate re­con­venes Dec. 9, the same day the ban is set to ex­pire. Also left to lan­guish: a vote on Pa­tri­cia Mil­lett, the D.C. Cir­cuit Court nom­in­ee whose blocked nom­in­a­tion provided the im­petus for Re­id to go nuc­le­ar.

And those two hurdles are just a pre­view of what’s to come, as Re­pub­lic­ans’ tools to not just delay Re­id’s ob­ject­ives, but to block them en­tirely.

The so-called nuc­le­ar op­tion, which ends the minor­ity’s abil­ity to fili­buster ju­di­cial and ex­ec­ut­ive nom­in­ees, does not bar fili­busters of nom­in­ees to the Su­preme Court. Now that Re­pub­lic­ans have lost their voice on lower-court nom­in­ees, they’re all the less likely to play ball when Obama needs their votes to fill va­can­cies on the coun­try’s premi­er ju­di­cial pan­el.

None of this neg­ates that, for now at least, Re­id’s suc­cess­ful change to the rules is a net vic­tory for Demo­crats. The new­found free­dom it gives Obama to shape the ju­di­cial sys­tem will af­fect the course of Amer­ic­an gov­ern­ment for years.

But Iowa Re­pub­lic­an Chuck Grass­ley took to the Sen­ate floor Thursday to warn Demo­crats of the price they’ll pay if, and likely when, the polit­ic­al tide breaks in the oth­er dir­ec­tion: “Ma­jor­it­ies are fickle. Ma­jor­it­ies are fleet­ing. Here today, gone to­mor­row.”

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4587) }}

What We're Following See More »
HE ‘WILL NEVER BE PRESIDENT’
Warren Goes After Trump Yet Again
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

When it comes to name-calling among America's upper echelon of politicians, there may be perhaps no greater spat than the one currently going on between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump. While receiving an award Tuesday night, she continued a months-long feud with the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. Calling him a "small, insecure moneygrubber" who probably doesn't know three things about Dodd-Frank, she said he "will NEVER be president of the United States," according to her prepared remarks."We don't know what Trump pays in taxes because he is the first presidential nominee in 40 years to refuse to disclose his tax returns. Maybe he’s just a lousy businessman who doesn’t want you to find out that he’s worth a lot less money than he claims." It follows a long-line of Warren attacks over Twitter, Facebook and in interviews that Trump is a sexist, racist, narcissistic loser. In reply, Trump has called Warren either "goofy" or "the Indian"—referring to her controversial assertion of her Native American heritage. 

FIRST CHANGE IN FOUR DECADES
Congress Passes Chemical Regulations Overhaul
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The House on Tuesday voted 403-12 "to pass an overhaul to the nation’s chemical safety standards for the first time in four decades. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act aims to answer years of complaints that the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the necessary authority to oversee and control the thousands of chemicals being produced and sold in the United States. It also significantly clamps down on states’ authorities, in an effort to stop a nationwide patchwork of chemical laws that industry says is difficult to deal with."

Source:
NO MORE INDEPENDENT VOTERS?
GOP Could Double Number of Early Primaries
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Leaders of the Republican Party have begun internal deliberations over making fundamental changes to the way its presidential nominees are chosen, a recognition that the chaotic process that played out this year is seriously flawed and helped exacerbate tensions within the party." Among the possible changes: forbidding independent voters to cast ballots in Republican primaries, and "doubling the number of early states to eight."

Source:
LEVERAGE
Kasich Tells His Delegates to Remain Pledged to Him
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

Citing the unpredictable nature of this primary season and the possible leverage they could bring at the convention, John Kasich is hanging onto his 161 delegates. "Kasich sent personal letters Monday to Republican officials in the 16 states and the District of Columbia where he won delegates, requesting that they stay bound to him in accordance with party rules."

Source:
EFFECTIVE NEXT MONTH
House GOP Changes Rules for Spending Measures
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Speaker Paul Ryan is changing the rules of how the House will consider spending measures to try to prevent Democrats from offering surprise amendments that have recently put the GOP on defense. ... Ryan announced at a House GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning that members will now have to submit their amendments ahead of time so that they are pre-printed in the Congressional Record, according to leadership aides." The change will take effect after the Memorial Day recess.

Source:
×