Senate Democrats Go “Nuclear,” Vote Down Party Lines to Change Senate Rules

nuclear's like a metaphorThe Senate
struck down
a rule requiring 60 votes to cut off a filibuster
of an appeals court judicial nominations, voting 52-48 along party
lines to disregard it, effectively overturning more than 200 years
of Senate precedent, not only on the judicial filibuster, as the
Washington Post
, but by moving to change the chamber’s rules without the
traditional two-thirds majority in support, something previously
done only to alter relatively minor rules. It’s rules all the way

Democrats insist the rules change won’t affect nominations to
the Supreme Court, but Republicans say that’s exactly what they’ll
do if a Republican president sends a Republican Senate a nomination
for the Supreme Court. The Senate’s fought this fight before
without pulling the trigger. The Washington Post provides

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 McCain
defused that effort.

At the time, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) 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.

The ability of a minority to thwart the agenda and will of the
party in power is a feature, not a bug, of the constitutional
order, but “majority rules” is, unsurprisingly, popular with the

from Hit & Run

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