November 22nd, 2013
08:03 AM ET

Nuclear Fallout After Senate Overturns 60-Vote Rule for Nominees

Senate Democrats dropped the filibuster bomb Thursday, and now the question is what kind of fallout will result from the so-called nuclear option.

By a 52-48 vote, the Senate ended the ability of minority Republicans to continue using filibusters to block some of President Barack Obama's judicial and executive nominations, despite the vehement objections of Republicans.

"Instead of 60 votes to break a filibuster, its now  51 votes – a simple majority," CNN's Dana Bash reports.

"Democrats say, they get that this landmark rules change benefits them now but could really hurt them some day when they lose the control of the Senate and end up back in the minority. But they essentially say that they really don’t have any choice, they prefer to take that risk, rather than deal with what they call 'continued obstruction' now."

Republicans warned the controversial move would worsen the already bitter partisan divide in Washington, complaining it took away a time-honored right for any member of the Senate minority party to filibuster.

"This changes everything, this changes everything," veteran GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona told reporters. He blamed newer Democratic senators who never served as the minority party for pushing the issue, adding: "They succeeded and they will pay a very, very heavy price for it."

CNN Political Analyst and Executive Editor of the Daily Beast John Avlon weighs in on the historic change, saying Democrats pulled the trigger "because things are objectively worse than ever before when it comes to abuse of the filibuster.” (SEE VIDEO BELOW)

“The key stat that the senate majority leader's office is putting out is that half of all nomination filibusters occurred under this president. And that really helps illustrates just how much precedent has been blown up over the last, in particular, decade: Filibusters out of control, nominations aren't going through, promises have been repeatedly broken, trust is at an all-time low inside the institution. So now Harry Reid switches his position and drops the nuclear option. It's an extraordinary moment."

Avlon says the situation is underscores the significant lack of bipartisanship in the Senate.

“They’re feeling they're essentially cutting their losses, and this way they can get at least get some nominations through.”

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) says that changing the filibuster rules will improve how the Senate works. (SEE VIDEO BELOW)

“There's no reason that changing this to majority rule on appointments will create ill will.  State legislative bodies, Senates do this every day.  They find ways to work together, people of goodwill will find ways to work together here," Kaine says.

“I have worked in a legislative body that operated by majority rule and we worked together fine,” Sen. Kaine says. “This will not make anything worse.  You can work together in a majority rule situation, just like you can with filibusters, holds and clotures. I actually believe that the Senate rules were impeding us working together. And look, the Senate this year has passed historic immigration reform.  We passed a historic Marketplace Fairness Act last week, we passed the historic bill that guarantee LGBT Americans couldn't be discriminated against in the workplace. The Senate is doing things.  We are reaching across the aisle and solving problems.  This will not change that in one respect.”

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) agrees with "New Day” Anchor Chris Cuomo that the GOP Obamacare playbook should contain solutions and less criticism. (SEE VIDEO BELOW)

When asked if solutions should be in the playbook, Rep. Yoho responds, “I agree 100%.... Criticism at this point is not going to help anybody. We need solutions. We’ve got two great solutions out there. We talk about it all the time.”

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November 21st, 2013
10:04 AM ET

Rule Change Vote Could Limit GOP's Ability to Block Nominees

Supporters of a move to end filibusters of presidential nominees picked up a key ally Tuesday.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a veteran California Democrat, says she has changed her mind and now supports using the so-called "nuclear option" – changing Senate rules over the objections of Republicans to prevent those filibusters. She said she has been persuaded to take the extraordinary step because the public is anxious to have Washington work and "you can't do it if the President can't get a cabinet, a sub-cabinet, judges, commissioners." Filibusters require 60 votes to set aside, a high hurdle in the narrowly divided Senate.

The longtime member of the Judiciary Committee said blocking nominees has "never been as bad as it is now" and blamed "politics" for the GOP-led filibusters of three recent nominees to the important District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals.

Feinstein made her decision known to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid when he called her about the issue recently.

It's unclear if proponents now have the 51 votes necessary to change the rules. Reid refused to answer that question at a news conference Tuesday, and he didn't indicate whether he'd actually carry out the "nuclear option."

Typically, 67 votes are needed to make a change in the Senate rules.

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