Senate Nears Another Meltdown on Presidential Nominees

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 14: U.S. Senate Minority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) walks through the Capitol Building on October 14, 2013 in Washington, DC. As Democratic and Republican leaders negotiate an end to the shutdown and a way to raise the debt limit, the White House postponed a planned Monday afternoon meeting with Boehner and other Congressional leaders. The government shutdown is currently in its 14th day. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
National Journal
Michael Catalini
Nov. 6, 2013, 3:28 p.m.

The Sen­ate ap­pears headed for an­oth­er show­down on the so-called “nuc­le­ar op­tion” for chan­ging the rules of the con­firm­a­tion pro­cess to make it harder for the minor­ity party to block pres­id­en­tial ap­point­ments.

With Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id, D-Nev., about to call for a pro­ced­ur­al vote on two nom­in­ees to the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the D.C. Cir­cuit who are op­posed by Re­pub­lic­ans, some Demo­crats are call­ing for the rules change.

Last week, Re­pub­lic­ans blocked both a nom­in­ee to the D.C. Cir­cuit, Pa­tri­cia Mil­lett, and Pres­id­ent Obama’s choice to lead the Fed­er­al Hous­ing Fin­ance Agency, Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C. This week they are prom­ising to block two more ap­peals court nom­in­ees, Cor­ne­lia Pil­lard and Robert Wilkins, when Re­id brings them up for a vote.

“I’m con­fid­ent we will have the same out­come as the first one,” said Sen­ate Minor­ity Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas. Asked wheth­er the ju­di­cial nom­in­ees could get the 60 votes needed to over­come a fili­buster, Cornyn answered simply, “I don’t be­lieve so.”

The Sen­ate skir­ted the is­sue of how con­firm­a­tion votes are con­duc­ted as re­cently as Ju­ly, when Sens. John Mc­Cain, R-Ar­iz., and Chuck Schu­mer, D-N.Y., hammered out an agree­ment that fore­stalled a change in the rules to al­low ex­ec­ut­ive nom­in­ees to pro­ceed on a simple-ma­jor­ity vote.

But now, the Demo­crats who led the charge to change the rules then are again say­ing enough is enough.

“It’s prob­ably a couple of weeks away here,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. “I think we will come back and re­vis­it this is­sue, con­sist­ent with our con­ver­sa­tion in Ju­ly about the need for the Sen­ate to be able to hold up-or-down votes.”

Re­id, ac­cord­ing to a Sen­ate Demo­crat­ic lead­er­ship aide, has not taken the nuc­le­ar op­tion off the table and re­serves the right to change the rules.

For Re­pub­lic­ans, though, the threats seem to have grown wear­i­some.

“Not only have the Demo­crats got­ten nearly everything they want, but at the same time they have pre­served the op­tion to dangle the threat of the nuc­le­ar op­tion again,” said Beth Lev­ine, a spokes­wo­man for Re­pub­lic­ans on the Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee. “By al­low­ing the threat to con­tin­ue, they have in ef­fect already changed the rules in many in­stances.”

The dis­ad­vant­age for Demo­crats in chan­ging the rules is that they could someday find them­selves in the minor­ity and be un­able to block nom­in­ees they op­pose. Re­pub­lic­ans eagerly point this out when re­but­ting their col­leagues across the aisle.

But some Demo­crats call for the change non­ethe­less.

“I have said for a long time: The Sen­ate is broken,” Sen. Tom Ud­all, D-N.M., said re­cently in a state­ment. “I called for changes in the Sen­ate rules at the be­gin­ning of this Con­gress, but we didn’t do enough. And now we’re right back in the same dys­func­tion­al situ­ation.”

What We're Following See More »
IN ADDITION TO DNC AND DCCC
Clinton Campaign Also Hacked
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
1.5 MILLION MORE TUNED IN FOR TRUMP
More People Watched Trump’s Acceptance Speech
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Hillary Clinton hopes that television ratings for the candidates' acceptance speeches at their respective conventions aren't foreshadowing of similar results at the polls in November. Preliminary results from the networks and cable channels show that 34.9 million people tuned in for Donald Trump's acceptance speech while 33.3 million watched Clinton accept the Democratic nomination. However, it is still possible that the numbers are closer than these ratings suggest: the numbers don't include ratings from PBS or CSPAN, which tend to attract more Democratic viewers.

Source:
AFFECTS NOVEMBER ELECTIONS
North Carolina Voter ID Law Struck Down
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday overturned North Carolina's 2013 voter ID law, saying it was passed with “discriminatory intent." The decision sends the case back to the district judge who initially dismissed challenges to the law. "The ruling prohibits North Carolina from requiring photo identification from voters in future elections, including the November 2016 general election, restores a week of early voting and preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and ensures that same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting will remain in effect."

Source:
NORTH DAKOTA TO ILLINOIS
Massive Oil Pipeline Approved for the Midwest
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

An oil pipeline almost as long as the much-debated Keystone XL has won final approval to transport crude from North Dakota to Illinois, traveling through South Dakota and Iowa along the way. "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave the final blessing to the Dakota Access pipeline on Tuesday. Developers now have the last set of permits they need to build through the small portion of federal land the line crosses, which includes major waterways like the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers. The so-called Bakken pipeline goes through mostly state and private land."

Source:
DISAPPOINTING RESULTS
GDP Grew at 1.2% in Q2
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The U.S. economy grew at an anemic 1.2% in the second quarter, "well below the 2.6% growth economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast." Consumer spending was "robust," but it was offset by "cautious" business investment. "Since the recession ended seven years ago, the expansion has failed to achieve the breakout growth seen in past recoveries. "The average annual growth rate during the current business cycle, 2.1%, remains the weakest of any expansion since at least 1949."

Source:
×