UPDATED: Countdown To The Senate ‘Nuclear Option’
UPDATE: Looks like the Senate Dems are at Defcon 2:
From young newbies to the old guards, Democratic senators are clamoring for filibuster reform, and insist that a mass Republican blockade of three judges to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals may be the final straw before going nuclear.
“It would mean they’ve totally gone back on what they said when there was a Republican president,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the longest-serving member of the chamber, told TPM. “It would be such a reversal that I think there’d be overwhelming pressure to change the rules.”
Leahy — who is leading the Democrats’ advocacy for nominees Patricia Millett, Cornelia Pillard and Robert Wilkins to the court — has repeatedly resisted filibuster reform in the past. But Republicans are changing his mind after they filibustered Millett and show no signs of letting Democrats fill any of the three vacancies on the powerful court.
The No. 2 Democratic senator shares Leahy’s frustrations.
“That is the most egregious example of partisanship at the expense of extremely well-qualified nominees,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL). “I am not just upset — I am angry at the way Patricia Millett was treated.”
Senate Republicans are doing what they do best: obstructing the President’s judicial nominees not over contentious issues but for the sake of obstruction:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is plowing ahead trying to confirm President Barack Obama’s nominees to the second-most powerful court in the country, even after Republicans blocked one nominee and signaled they’ll do it again for others.
Reid filed a motion on Thursday that sets up a confirmation vote on Tuesday for Nina Pillard, one of Obama’s three nominees for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Republicans last week filibustered the first nominee, Patricia Millett, who Reid has vowed to bring up again. Obama’s third nominee, Robert Wilkins, is expected to soon get a vote. Republicans are expected to block him, too.
None of the D.C. Circuit nominations is contentious — even the Republicans blocking them say it’s nothing personal. Instead, GOP senators argue the 11-member court isn’t busy enough to warrant filling its three empty seats, a charge contested by Democrats. Republicans also routinely, and falsely, charge Obama with “court-packing”.
Don’t be surprised if Sen. Harry Reid and Senate Democrats implement the “nuclear option” and end the procedural filibuster — and perhaps even the “talking” filibuster — with a simple majority rules change sometime before Thanksgiving.