Senate Republicans Daring Democrats to Go Nuclear

(FILES) A file picture taken in 1971 shows a French nuclear test in the south Pacific atoll of Mururoa. Expertises on a 'probable link' between the French nuclear tests in Algeria and Polynesia and cancers of soldiers exposed revive the hope of a change for victims compensation law.
National Journal
Michael Catalin
Add to Briefcase
Michael Catalin
Nov. 7, 2013, 1:18 p.m.

Don’t ex­pect an­oth­er sum­mit in the Old Sen­ate Cham­ber to de­fuse an­oth­er nuc­le­ar stan­doff in the Sen­ate this fall.

At least, that’s the mes­sage from a num­ber of Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­ors as the de­bate heats up again over chan­ging the Sen­ate’s rules to weak­en the minor­ity’s abil­ity to block nom­in­a­tions — the so-called nuc­le­ar op­tion.

“This is what I’ve told my Demo­crat friends,” said Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho. “Do it. Be­cause when we have a Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­ent and we’ve got 55 mem­bers of the U.S. Sen­ate or 51, we’re gonna be able to re­peal Obama­care with a simple ma­jor­ity.

Sen­at­ors are en­ga­ging in the nuc­le­ar-op­tion fight again since Re­pub­lic­ans blocked two nom­in­ees last week. The GOP is poised to pre­vent an­oth­er ju­di­cial nom­in­ee when the Sen­ate re­turns next week and con­siders Cor­ne­lia Pil­lard to be a judge for the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the D.C. Cir­cuit.

Re­pub­lic­ans ex­pect Pil­lard will not get the 60 votes needed to over­come a fili­buster.

Demo­crat­ic lead­er­ship will not com­mit to go­ing nuc­le­ar.

“I don’t think any fi­nal de­cision has been made,” said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Sen­ate Demo­crat. But, he ad­ded: “There comes a tip­ping point.” Durbin did not elab­or­ate on what the point would be.

A Sen­ate Demo­crat­ic lead­er­ship aide said that while Demo­crats had 51 votes to change the rules on ex­ec­ut­ive nom­in­ees in Ju­ly, it’s not clear there are 51 votes to change the rules on ju­di­cial nom­in­ees. The dif­fer­ence, the aide said, is that some groups ad­voc­at­ing for abor­tion rights worry about the im­plic­a­tions for a rules change should there be a Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­ent and a Re­pub­lic­an-con­trolled Sen­ate.

Still, a fa­mil­i­ar group of Demo­crats, in­clud­ing Sens. Jeff Merkley of Ore­gon and Tom Ud­all of New Mex­ico, are call­ing for a change in the rules.

So far, the is­sue does not seem to have reached the fevered pitch it did over the sum­mer, with Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers keep­ing their dis­tance from the dis­cus­sion.

But rank-and-file GOP sen­at­ors are is­su­ing a double-dog dare to Demo­crats.

“At some point you say, ‘Just bring it on,’ ” said Sen. Bob Cork­er, R-Tenn. “I don’t think Demo­crats would want a Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­ent put­ting people on the Su­preme Court with 51 votes.”

While Demo­crats sug­gest chan­ging the rules to af­fect only ex­ec­ut­ive or per­haps even ju­di­cial nom­in­a­tions, Re­pub­lic­ans ar­gue that such a change would open the floodgates and pave the way for them to change the rules on le­gis­la­tion as well, if they take back the cham­ber.

“That kind of breaks the mold, doesn’t it?” Risch said. “If you do it on ex­ec­ut­ive nom­in­a­tions — what dif­fer­ence does it make [for le­gis­la­tion]? If you feel so strongly about it that you’re will­ing to break the rules to change the rules, what dif­fer­ence does it make?”

While it was a closed-door meet­ing in the Old Sen­ate Cham­ber that seemed to break the lo­g­jam in Ju­ly, Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans said they knew of no bi­par­tis­an be­hind-the-scenes meet­ings on avoid­ing the is­sue this time.

Asked wheth­er Re­pub­lic­ans are ac­tu­ally dar­ing Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id, D-Nev., to try to change the rules, Sen. Jerry Mor­an, R-Kan., who over­sees the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Sen­at­ori­al Com­mit­tee, thought for a mo­ment.

“Sen­at­or Re­id and his col­leagues just need to de­cide if they’re gonna change the rules or not,” Mor­an re­spon­ded. “If this is what they’re gonna do every time, I don’t think we’re in­ter­ested in be­ing in­tim­id­ated by that.”

What We're Following See More »
ALL 100 SENATORS
Dem Senator Calls North Korea Briefing “Sobering”
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS
LOFTY GOALS
White House Proposes New Tax Plan
12 hours ago
BREAKING

The White House on Wednesday laid out its plan for tax reform, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying it would be "the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country." The tax code would be broken down into just three tax brackets, with the highest personal income tax rate cut from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. The plan would also slash the tax rate on corporations and small businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent. "The White House plan is a set of principles with few details, but it’s designed to be the starting point of a major push to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive tax reform package this year," said National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.

Source:
EMERGING BUDGET FRAMEWORK?
Dems Proposes Obamacare-for-Defense Deal
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"An emerging government funding deal would see Democrats agree to $15 billion in additional military funding in exchange for the GOP agreeing to fund healthcare subsidies, according to two congressional officials briefed on the talks. Facing a Friday deadline to pass a spending bill and avert a shutdown, Democrats are willing to go halfway to President Trump’s initial request of $30 billion in supplemental military funding."

Source:
WHITE HOUSE BLOCKING DOC REQUEST
Michael Flynn Remains A Russian-Sized Problem
1 days ago
BREAKING

The Michael Flynn story is not going away for the White House as it tries to refocus its attention. The White House has denied requests from the House Oversight Committee for information and documents regarding payments that the former national security adviser received from Russian state television station RT and Russian firms. House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking member Elijah Cummings also said that Flynn failed to report these payments on his security clearance application. White House legislative director Marc Short argued that the documents requested are either not in the possession of the White House or contain sensitive information he believes is not applicable to the committee's stated investigation.

Source:
SENATE JUDICIARY HEARING
Sally Yates to Testify on May 8
1 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login