Democrats Go Nuclear And Eliminate 60 Vote Filibuster Rule — Videos
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Segment 1: Democrats Go Nuclear And Eliminate 60 Vote Filibuster Rule — Videos
Raw: Senate Votes to Change Filibuster Rules
[Look] Sen. Rand Paul Slams Harry Reid A BIG BULLY, DICTATOR for Killing Filibuster, Breaing Rules
Mitch McConnell: Nuclear Option Doesn’t ‘Distract from Obamacare,’ It ‘Reminds’ Voters of It
Senate Democrats Vote To Change Filibuster Rules
Nuclear Filibuster option explained to Obama Voter
Reid, McConnell take drastically different views on US Senate filibuster rule change
Senate Votes To Change Filibuster Rules In Place Since 1789
Alexander colloquy with Sen. McConnell on filibuster rules change
Senate Invokes “Nuclear Option” To Soften Rules Ending Filibusters
Senate Votes To Change Filibuster Rules In Place Since 1789 – Invoking So Called “Nuclear Option”
The Nuclear Option: The Filibuster “Power Grab” in the Senate
Recent attention on what many believe to be a dysfunctional Senate has focused the national debate squarely on the institution’s complex parliamentary rules of procedure. Specifically, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced plans to consider a legislative manuever known as the Nuclear Option to change the rules of the Senate in order to curtail the use of the filibuster and facilitate the confirmation of President Obama’s judicial and executive nominees. The filibuster allows senators to speak for as long as they wish, on any topic they choose, unless three-fifths of the Senate votes to end debate by invoking cloture. Opponents of the Nuclear Option argue that it is a power grab because it allows Senate majorities to circumvent the regular order and change the rules of the Senate with a simple majority vote over the objection of Senate minorities. This, proponents argue, inevitably undermines deliberation. The result is an errosion of one of the fundamental roles of the Senate. Join us as we debate and discuss the filibuster, proposed rules changes, and the traditional role of the United States Senate in the legislative process.
Reid, Democrats trigger ‘nuclear’ option; eliminate most filibusters on nominees
By Paul Kane and William Branigin, Updated: Thursday, November 21, 1:48 PM
The partisan battles that have paralyzed Washington in recent years took a historic turn Thursday, as Senate Democrats eliminated filibusters for most presidential nominations, severely curtailing the political leverage of the Republican minority in the Senate and assuring an escalation of partisan warfare.
Saying that “enough is enough,” President Obama welcomed the end of what he called the abuse of the Senate’s advise and consent function, which he said had turned into “a reckless and relentless tool” to grind the gears of government to a halt.
While “neither party has been blameless for these tactics,” Obama said in a statement to reporters at the White House, “today’s pattern of obstruction . . . just isn’t normal; it’s not what our founders envisioned.” He cited filibusters against executive branch appointments and judicial nominees on grounds that he said were based simply on opposition to “the policies that the American people voted for in the last election.”
“This isn’t obstruction on substance, on qualifications,” he said. “It’s just to gum up the works.”
The rule change means that federal judge nominees and executive-office appointments can advance to confirmation votes by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote supermajority that has long been required to end debate and proceed to an up-or-down majority vote to confirm or reject the nomination.
The change does not apply to Supreme Court nominations. But the vote, mostly along party lines, dramatically alters the landscape for both Democratic and Republican presidents, especially if their own political party holds a majority of, but fewer than 60, Senate seats.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accused Democrats of a power grab and suggested that they will regret their decision if Republicans regain control of the chamber.
“We’re not interested in having a gun put to our head any longer,” McConnell said. “Some of us have been around here long enough to know that the shoe is sometimes on the other foot.” McConnell then addressed Democrats directly, saying: “You may regret this a lot sooner than you think.”
He added later: “The solution to this problem is at the ballot box. We look forward to having a great election in 2014.”
In his remarks at the White House, Obama called the use of the filibuster over the five years of his tenure “an unprecedented pattern of obstruction in Congress that’s prevented too much of the American people’s business from getting done.” Saying that the tactic has blocked bipartisan compromises, prevented qualified people from filling critical posts and stymied legislation to create jobs and limit gun violence, he said: “It’s harmed our economy, and it’s been harmful to our democracy.”
“A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to refight the result of an election is not normal, and for the sake of future generations, we can’t let it become normal,” Obama said.
“So the vote today I think is an indication that a majority of senators believe, as I believe, that enough is enough,” he said. He added: “The American people deserve better than politicians who run for election telling them how terrible government is, and then devoting their time in elected office to trying to make government not work as often as possible.” He did not take any questions after his remarks in the White House briefing room.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned Democrats against the rule change on Wednesday, saying that if the GOP reclaimed the Senate majority, Republicans would further alter the rules to include Supreme Court nominees, so that Democrats could not filibuster a Republican pick for the nation’s highest court.
Reacting to Republican criticism after the vote, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) called the move “a huge step in the right direction” and denied that it somehow broke Senate rules.
“The Senate broke no rules,” he said in a floor speech. “We simply used the rules to make sure that the Senate could function and that we could get our nominees through.”
The vote to change the rule passed 52 to 48. Three Democrats — Sens. Carl Levin (Mich.), Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) — joined 45 Republicans in opposing the measure. Levin is a longtime senator who remembers well the years when Democratic filibusters blocked nominees of Republican presidents; Manchin and Pryor come from Republican-leaning states.
Levin denounced both Republicans and Democrats in a floor speech after the vote. He said GOP obstruction of Obama’s nominees has been “irresponsible” and “partisan gamesmanship.” Republicans “are contributing to the destruction of an important check against majority overreach,” he said.
But Democrats have used the filibuster in the past, and “changing the rules by fiat” means that “there are no rules” in the Senate any longer,” he said. “Today we are once again moving down a destructive path,” Levin said.
Infuriated by what he sees as a pattern of obstruction and delay over Obama’s nominees, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) triggered the so-called “nuclear option” by proposing a motion to reconsider the nomination of Patricia Millett, one of the judicial nominees whom Republicans recently blocked by a filibuster, to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The Senate voted 57 to 40, with three abstentions, to reconsider Millett’s nomination. Several procedural votes followed. The Senate parliamentarian, speaking through Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the chamber’s president pro tempore, then ruled that 60 votes are needed to cut off a filibuster and move to a final confirmation vote. Reid appealed that ruling, asking senators to decide whether it should stand.
The Democratic victory paved the way for the confirmation of Millett and two other nominees to the D.C. appeals court. All have recently been stymied by GOP filibusters, amid Republican assertions that the critical appellate court simply did not need any more judges.
Under its new rules, the Senate subsequently voted 55 to 43 Thursday afternoon to move ahead with Millett’s nomination. Two senators voted present.
Senate rules still require up to 30 hours of debate on the Millett nomination. So a final confirmation vote on the nomination is expected to be held in mid-December after the two-week Thanksgiving recess.
Many Senate majorities have thought about using this technical maneuver to get around centuries of parliamentary precedent, but none has done so in a unilateral move on a major change of rules or precedents. This simple-majority vote has been executed in the past to change relatively minor precedents involving how to handle amendments; for example, one such change short-circuited the number of filibusters that the minority party could deploy on nominations.
Reid has rattled his saber on the filibuster rules at least three other times in the past three years, yielding each time to a bipartisan compromise brokered by the chamber’s elder statesmen. But this time, no deal emerged.
The main protagonists for the rules change have been junior Democrats elected in the last six or seven years, who have alleged that Republicans have used the arcane filibuster rules to create a procedural logjam that has left the Senate deadlocked. Upon arriving in 2009, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said, he found that “the Senate was a graveyard for good ideas.”
As he recounted in a speech this week, Udall said, “I am sorry to say that little has changed. The digging continues.”
Reid’s move is a reversal of his position in 2005, when he was minority leader and fought the GOP majority’s bid to change rules on a party-line vote. A bipartisan, rump caucus led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) defused that effort.
At the time, McConnell was the No. 2 GOP leader and helped push the effort to eliminate filibusters on the George W. Bush White House’s judicial selections. Eight years later, McConnell, now the minority leader, has grown publicly furious over Reid’s threats to use the same maneuver.
Democrats contend that this GOP minority, with a handful of senators elected as tea party heroes, has overrun McConnell’s institutional inclinations and served as a procedural roadblock on most rudimentary things. According to the Congressional Research Service, from 1967 through 2012, majority leaders had to file motions to try to break a filibuster of a judicial nominee 67 times — and 31 of those, more than 46 percent — occurred in the last five years of an Obama White House and Democratic majority.
Republicans contend that their aggressive posture is merely a natural growth from a decades-long war over the federal judiciary, noting that what prompted the 2005 rules showdown were at least 10 filibusters of GOP judicial nominees. To date, only a handful of Obama’s judicial selections have gone to a vote and been filibustered by the minority.
However, many Republicans, weary from the third rules fight this year, seemed to have adopted a resigned indifference to this latest threat, as opposed to the heated rhetoric in mid-July when the issue last flared up.