Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nuclear forces poised for launch in the Senate

Wow, it's actually happening.

The big question for the post-nuclear world is whether the President then nominates people to all vacant federal judicial and executive offices and then gets Reid to expedite them through.

...and the Republicans declined to take the exit ramp to avoid the end of non-SCOTUS filibusters. The first step on the "nuclear option" is for Harry Reid to call a vote on a nominee who then gets filibustered. He chose Patricia Millett, who was previously filibustered on October 31st by a vote of 55 to 38. In this morning's vote, if just a handful of Republican senators had decided to vote for cloture (that is, against the filibuster), the cloture motion would have passed and the Millett confirmation would proceed to a vote on the merits without a filibuster, which would prevent Reid from having the opportunity to declare the filibuster unconstitutional (that's essentially how the nuclear option works). Thus, the nuclear option would have been avoided. Millett would probably be confirmed but the filibuster would live on to be used another day.

But that didn't happen. This morning's cloture motion failed to receive the 60 votes needed and it was rejected 57 (for) to 40 (against). If only three GOPers had switched, the nuclear threat would have been defused. Of course, it wouldn't really solve the problem, as Harry could just bring up the next nominee that had previously been filibustered to see if the Republicans would allow him to go nuclear on that one. So maybe the exit ramp with Millett would not have been more than a temporary reprieve. In any case, it didn't happen and so down the nuclear path we go!