nuclear option

Another reason to fire Harry Reid: His “nuclear option” allowed Obama to pack the D.C. Circuit Court with Leftist judges

In November, amid the Obamacare rollout disaster, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) claimed that Republicans’ “unprecedented obstruction” had forced his hand, he had no choice but to invoke the nuclear option to eliminate the filibuster for most judicial and executive-level nominees.

Really, though, the true motive was to pack D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second-most powerful court in the country, with Leftist judges appointed by President Barack Obama. The court regularly hears legal cases dealing with regulations and rules written by federal agencies. It has also been a thorn in the side of the Obama administration.

Although he’s denied in speeches on the Senate floor, Reid admitted that he was trying to tilt the court during an August 2013 interview with a Nevada radio station. “We’re focusing very intently on the D.C. Circuit,” said Reid, according to Talking Points Memo. “We need at least one more [seat filled]. There’s three vacancies. And that will switch the majority. So we’re working on it.”

That brings us to the yesterday’s decision in Halbig v. Burwell, in which a three-judge panel court ruled that the IRS acted outside of its statutory authority by extending subsidies to consumers who enrolled through the federal Obamacare Exchange.

Ted Cruz demands access to memo outlining how Obama can kill Americans

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) move last fall to go nuclear on the filibuster didn’t just undermine the rights of the minority in the chamber, it has also helped the Obama administration continue its pernicious habit of keeping members of Congress and the American people in the dark.

President Barack Obama nominated David Barron in September 2013 to fill a seat on the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Barron briefly served in the administration, from January 2009 to July 2010, as acting assistant attorney general.

During his stint at the Justice Department, Barron, a critic of President George W. Bush’s use of executive power, wrote a memo outlining the legal case for the targeted drone assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen accused of terrorist activity. The drones memo, which has been used to assassinate other Americans, is now at the center of his confirmation to a lifetime seat on the federal bench.

Rand Paul talks “iron-fisted rule” in speech against nuclear option

Rand Paul

In this day and age, we can no longer pretend we never said the things we have said before, we can no longer pretend we never stood for what we stood for in the past. YouTube makes whole speeches available for anybody in a blink of an eye. Google makes any piece of information that has ever been made available online, easy to find.

Online social media websites like Twitter and Facebook make the sharing of these bits of information just as easy to spread as wildfire, but President Obama and other Democrats find it hard to believe that a major change of heart would make any difference now. After all, they are the party of ‘yes we can.’

Yes we can now be completely oblivious of the fact that in 2005 we were absolutely against the nuclear option. Yes we can pretend that when Republicans do it, it’s wrong, but when Democrats do it, it’s alright.

Just before Thanksgiving, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) invoked the nuclear option to keep the minority party from using its right to filibuster judicial and executive branch nominees. Because of the change of the rules, only 51 votes are required to confirm most nominees presented by the judicial and executive branches.

On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) took to the Senate floor to present his speech against the Democrats’ “nuclear option” and remind his fellow lawmakers that now that the “iron-fisted rule of the rule-breakers” began, “there will be no return.”

Filibuster change revives Obamacare’s “death panel”

Death Panel

Not only did Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) give Democrats a convenient political distraction from the Obamacare meltdown, the “nuclear option” was also very obvious power grab that gives President Barack Obama virtually unchecked power to whomever he wants to his cabinet or to federal courts.

But the executive appointments that can now be made without any real check in the Senate are not just innocuous posts. Sam Baker of National Journal noted last week that the elimination of the filibuster gives President Obama the ability to make appointments to the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), otherwise known as “death panels.”

“The IPAB is technically supposed to submit its first proposed cuts in January, but Obama hasn’t even nominated anyone to the board yet. Nominees have to be confirmed by the Senate, which until today required 60 votes—and Republicans were highly unlikely to help confirm anyone to the board,” wrote Baker on Thursday.

“But now that the Senate has moved to a 51-vote threshold for executive appointments, Obama will likely be able to fill the board and move ahead with one of the most significant cost-control measures in his signature health care law—if he wants to,” he noted, adding that Senate aide confirmed that the filibuster change applies to IPAB.

Harry Reid goes “nuclear” on the filibuster

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and most members of the Democratic conference voted today to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for executive nominations, excluding Supreme Court appointments, after Republicans blocked three appointments to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Executive nominees now need only 51 votes to win confirmation from the Senate. The change was approved by the Senate by a vote of 52 to 48. Three Democrats — Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Mark Pryor (D-AR) — joined every Senate Republican to vote against the rule change.

Reid complained that Republicans had forced him to call for the change in Senate rules because of, what he called, “unprecedented obstruction” and claimed that the it’s “something both sides should be willing to live with to make Washington work again.”

“The American people are fed up with this kind of obstruction and gridlock. The American people – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – are fed up with this kind of obstruction and gridlock,” said Reid from the Senate floor. “The American people want Washington to work for American families once again.”

The rule change is an attempt to change the narrative. President Obama and Democrats have talked up “gridlock” in government to get attention off of the problems with Obamacare. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made that point to colleagues this morning.

Some Senate Republicans unhappy about filibuster deal

The deal worked out between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and a handful of Senate Republicans to allow votes on President Barack Obama’s nominees has sparked some backlash.

Roll Call reported on Wednesday that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell felt that Republicans could have received more in a deal to avert the “nuclear option,” which would have taken away the option to filibuster cabinet-level appointments:

A meeting of Senate Republicans on Wednesday grew tense as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told his members he could have gotten a better deal on nominations than the one negotiated by rank-and-file Republicans.

McConnell’s tone, according to multiple sources, implied that he had been kept in the dark about the talks between some in his own ranks and Democrats. However, those same Republicans say they kept McConnell updated throughout their negotiating process.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., got so frustrated with McConnell’s presentation of events, that he called “bullshit” loud enough for the room to hear, nearly a half-dozen sources said. The heated exchange underscored the “buyer’s remorse” among some Republicans, especially leaders, one senior Republican said on background.

Harry Reid delays going “nuclear” on filibuster

Harry Reid

Despite frequent threats to go nuclear on the filibuster and minority rights, it looks like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will temporarily hold off on making changes to the long-held rule when the new Congress comes into session today:

He has a chance to go “nuclear” Thursday, but instead Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to punt a decision on the filibuster until later this month.

With a new Congress being sworn in Thursday, Reid had threatened to invoke what critics call the “nuclear option”: Changing filibuster rules by 51 votes on the first day of a new session, circumventing the usual requirement in which at least 67 senators are needed to change Senate rules.

Instead, he’ll employ a circuitous procedure to technically keep the Senate in its first legislative day by sending the chamber into recess — rather than adjourning. That move would keep the Senate in session, preserving his option of pushing forward with the so-called nuclear option at a later date.

That will buy Reid time for further negotiations with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to see if they can reach a bipartisan agreement, aides said Wednesday. It could delay the fight until the week of Jan. 22.

Reid and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agreed to some rule changes, including eliminating “secret holds” after the 2010 mid-term election. McConnell also agreed to scale back use of the filibuster, although the rules surrounding the tactic were left untouched.

Harry Reid goes “nuclear”

Harry Reid’s use of the “nuclear option” in the Senate is bound to rankle many Republican voters and commentators for the next few days, and not without cause either.  Of course, this is a great opportunity to point out how the being the party in power changes perspectives completely.  For example, The Hill points this out.

Republicans had considered using Reid’s maneuver, dubbed the “nuclear option,” in 2005 to change Senate rules to prohibit the filibuster of judicial nominees. Democrats decried the plan under consideration by then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) as a bomb that would decimate Senate traditions.

Oh how the hypocrisy abounds.

You see, when one side considers it, it’s an assault on Senate tradition…until they’re the majority party anyways.  It’s not just Senate rules that are affected either.

For example, recall President Clinton’s decision to get involved in military action in Kosovo and contrast it with President Bush’s decision to get involved in military action in Iraq.  During Clinton’s time, there were then members of Congress banging their fists on the table (metaphorically) and saying we shouldn’t take action without the consent and support of the United Nations, just as when President Bush pushed for military action in Iraq.  The difference?  In Clinton’s time, it was the Republicans making those claims!

In all fairness to the GOP, they weren’t alone in the hypocrisy.  Democrats were absolute hawks on Kosovo, yet were trotting out the Republican’s talking points on Kosovo and using them for Iraq.  Of course, we find a lot of that flip flopped again with Libya.  Ah, aren’t cycles if hypocrisy fun?

Democrats chance to change filibuster rules fading

Senate Democrats are having problems within their own caucus at trying to change filibuster rules since members are balking at eliminating or altering minority rights since they realize that they would lose this tactics should the wind up out of power:

Democrats face delays in their effort to reform Senate rules to weaken the filibuster, a leader of that effort acknowledged Monday night.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said Democrats’ attempt to adopt new Senate rules would wait until later in January, when they would try to execute the so-called “constitutional option” to change Senate rules with a simple majority.

“Right now, the Senate majority leader is planning for us to come in just for a single day this Wednesday and then come back in on the 23rd or 24th,” Merkley said on MSNBC.

It is at that point — not on Wednesday, as had been originally thought — that Democrats will attempt to modify Senate rules to weaken the filibuster, one of the principal tools of the minority in the chamber.

Democrats have argued they have the power, under the Constitution, to change the Senate’s rules with only a simple majority on the chamber’s first day of operations. To execute the plan in later January, they would have to technically extend the current session until later this month, and officially begin work on the next term on Jan. 23 or 24.

Video: Democrats argue to preserve minority rights in the Senate

“I pray God when the Democrats take back control we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing.” - Joe Biden, 2005, then serving as a US Senator

Last month, I posted some comments by Democratic Senators showing opposition to reconciliation, the process of streamlining through budget and revenue legislation by removing the minority’s option to filibuster, for health care.

Breitbart has posted a video with clips various Democratic Senators, including of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid, from back in 2005 when they were complaining (and rightfully so) about the Republican majority weighing the removal of the minority’s right to filibuster for judicial nominees (called the nuclear option by Dems).

The hypocrisy is stunning.

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