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
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 »
PROCEDURES NOT FOLLOWED
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
1 days ago
THE LATEST
MOB RULE?
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
2 days ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
3 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
4 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
×