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Harry Reid Threatens To Go ‘Nuclear’ On The GOP

Memo Pad Politics

Harry Reid Threatens To Go ‘Nuclear’ On The GOP


After four years of the Republicans in the Senate waging an unprecedented campaign of obstruction by demanding that Democrats have at least 60 votes to pass any major bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seems prepared to do something about reforming the filibuster. And he says that he’s willing to do it using the so-called “nuclear option” that allows him to pass rule changes with a simple majority.

Republicans claim that 67 votes are necessary to change Senate rules, though both Republicans and Democrats have expressed the belief that 51 votes can effect rule changes. An aide to former Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist labeled this interpretation the “Constitutional option.”

Some question whether would Reid would ever really go “nuclear,”, knowing that the ill will it would create could seriously complicate Senate functioning while resulting in no dramatic reforms.

Reid said he hoped to have a compromise within 24 to 26 hours or he would proceed without Republican support.

“If not, we’re going to move forward on what I think needs to be done. The caucus will support me on that,” he said.

Democrats currently hold a 53-seat majority in the upper house of Congress. Two independents — Angus King (I-ME) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) caucus with the majority.

Democrats — including Iowa’s Tom Harkin — who have been calling for filibuster reform were dismayed that Reid had backed off from demanding a “talking filibuster,” which would require senators to actually stand on the floor and speak, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington-style. But they appear pleased with the compromise Reid is seeking that would put the burden of gathering 41 votes to the side attempting to block the bill — a slight but potentially significant change in how the body would operate

“To me that’s key that 41 would be required to maintain the filibuster,” Harkin said.

The Nation’s John Nichols believes that gun-safety reforms being pushed by the Obama adminstration have no hope of passing unless reforms force senators to actually to take a stand on the issue. “And there is unlikely to be a vote on any major piece of gun-safety legislation without reform of the filibuster,” he wrote.

Nichols believes that the so-called “talking filibuster” is the only way to return actual deliberation to the Senate.

Republican obstruction in the Senate isn’t only limiting the president’s agenda, it’s preventing the judiciary from functioning properly. There are currently  82 federal judicial vacancies — 25 of which are considered judicial emergencies. President Obama has already renominated 33 candidates who received no vote at all last session.

Negotiations between Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are continuing but as of yet no Democrat has spoken out against invoking the “nuclear option.”

“Sen. Reid has the full backing of our caucus for whatever option he chooses,” Senator Debbie Stabenow (R-MI) said.

Photo credit: Geri Kodey


  1. Daniel Jones January 22, 2013


    These idiots have to *go*.

    1. steven c January 23, 2013

      Yeah like Democrats dont do the same thing. Why dont you check and see how many times the Democrats have used the fillibuster over the years. You might be suprised.

      1. Lovefacts January 23, 2013

        During the Bush years, every time the Dems tried to fillibuster a bill or nomination, “W” went public, demanding an up or down vote. What’s disappointed me is that Obama didn’t take the page out of “W’s” playbook and run with it.

      2. Lynda January 23, 2013

        During Bush’s first term there were 133 cloture motions. During the first two years of Obama’s 1st term there were 137 and 109 the next two years. Also the total number of bills blocked by the GOP in Obama’s first term was 375 at the last count. There is no equivalency taking place today that conpares with the Bush years.

      3. Jesse January 23, 2013

        Not even close genius

      4. hal621 January 23, 2013

        likewise, it should be a RULE that before anyone shoots off their mouth in an attempt to defend the indefensible….they must first “…check and see…” what the facts are on the subject they jump into so ill-prepared. even the slightest check of the records will show that the republicans have used the filibuster MORE times than the democrats….in just 2007 & 2008 there was a record breaking number of 112 repub. filibusters. u cannot avoid the plain, simple & admitted fact by the reublicans in both the senate & the house that they intended only to make PRESIDENT OBAMA’S first 4 years a failure in an avowed attempt to make him a one term President………………………didn’t work………………………..so shut-up

      5. Dave Bakay January 23, 2013

        So, steven, I guess 2 wrongs make it right? How about you checking on the record # of filibusters the Republicans have used! Unprecedented. And on everything- even things they had once been for. And this after complaining that the Dem’s were obstructing.

    2. sigrid28 January 23, 2013

      The Lutheran Small Catechism states that we should put the most positive construction possible when judging the behavior of others. So here goes:

      As infuriating as it will be to watch Republicans in the Senate continue to obstruct legislation using the filibuster (and then complain that President Obama and his administration haven’t got anything done), while Harry Reid refuses to use our one chance to change this, at least Reid will also continue to refuse to bring Republican legislation from the House to the Senate floor. These two acts of his will effectively bring to light again and again, as they have in the past year and a half, Republican incalcitrance in both the House and Senate. It may take years of self-inflicted harm done to low-information, Red state voters to convince them that their GOP representatives in the House and the Senate do not have their best interests at heart. Once voters the GOP depends upon to win elections start to feel the pain of GOP policies that help only the wealthy and corporate interests, perhaps these Republican voters will feel as angry about the filibuster debaucle–and the Hastert rule–as we all do now. Harry Reid’s inaction will be turning the 113th Congress into yet another teaching moment for the American electorate.

      Yet this positive interpretation of inaction on Harry Reid’s part depends on suspending concern for some conditions that require immediate action, action that the House and Senate were designed to take for the good of the American people as a whole. I wish we did not live in a world where vote-counting trumps decision making and problem solving, because that plays right into the Republicans’ cheating game. Elected officials were meant to do more than get themselves and their friends re-elected, in a world where legislation has life and death consequences.

    3. sigrid28 January 23, 2013

      Here’s another problem with the lack of a talking filibuster, which Republicans ought to understand chapter and verse. They were infuriated that the American public did not get full disclosure of the facts behind the attack on the American mission in Benghazi. Yet they do not wish the public records of the Senate to disclose the identity of the senator(s) calling for a filibuster. If they want to use the filibuster to obstruct the deliberations of the Senate, they should be supportive of a change in the Senate rules that would force elected officials filibustering to be identified along with their reasons for doing so.

      1. Jimmy Z January 24, 2013

        No one has obstructed more Senate deliberations with the filibuster than the socialist Democrats.

        1. sigrid28 January 24, 2013

          If what you say is more than a talking point, then Senate Republicans should get right behind rules changes to require a talking filibuster.

        2. ijgmdg January 26, 2013

          Jimmy Z you are one psychotic imbecile. Republicans have abused the filibuster 380 times, more than all the other filibusters in history. You need to get your facts straight and shut up your infantile mouth. You obviously are Republican reguritation.

    4. J. Justin Knoop January 23, 2013

      Bingo and Amen!

  2. Lynda January 22, 2013

    Dont’ take hostages unless you are willing to shoot them. Somebody said that just a few days ago. The Democratic Party had better think this matter through as they just might get what they ask for. There will come a time, and perhaps not a far off as today’s numbers would indicate, that they will be the minority. Be very careful what you wish for…you might just get it. If you are going to pull the trigger be sure your sight picture has the proper target in mind.

    1. amarquez647 January 23, 2013

      .The GOP obstruction must stop. We will take our chances when we are the minority. 51 is a majority, weather Republican or Democrat. Senator should talk for the duration of a filibuster. All politicians have plenty of hot air to spread around.

    2. ALTreality January 23, 2013

      This is the primary reason that the GOP never had any interest in reforming the filibuster, because they didn’t want to be on the receiving end if they ended up in the minority.

  3. nobsartist January 23, 2013

    I sure am glad that it has only taken 4 years for reid to lead.

    1. steven c January 23, 2013

      Reid is not a leader he is an opprotunist. The man was on the Nevada gaming commision in the 70s, he has mob connections that go back through his whole political career.

      1. Lynda January 23, 2013

        Care to back up such claims with some facts? I’ve not seem the mobbed up claim for many years. Have you got something new to explain?

  4. Dominick Vila January 23, 2013

    With ten Democrats and six Republican senators running for reelection in 2014, and the fact that three of those Democrats are from red states, changing the rules of the Senate may be a two-edged sword.

    1. MARK January 23, 2013

      O.K.,so what is the option? The current fiasco makes a joke of goverment process and prevents the work of congress from taking place.We are seeing how that plays out across the country.I am sick to death of the gop obstinancy and I would accept the risks of fillibuster reform for the opportunity of seeing something get done.I don’t know about you,but having done my civic duty of casting my vote I am past ready to begin seeing positive results. In case you have missed my previous comments,I am also pissed off and want to see those gop bastards bleed.

      1. Dominick Vila January 23, 2013

        I agree. The filibuster is an antiquated and unnecessary procedure used to block legislation the minority party objects to. I would get rid of it and I would get rid of the Electoral College as well. My point is that considering how many Democratic senators will be running running for reelection in 2014, and the fact that some of them are from red states, there are dangers inherent in changing tools that may allow us to block legislation in the future, if the GOP succeeds with all its redistricting efforts and ideologues manage to convince a naive populace to vote against their best interests in 2014 and beyond.
        The GOP lost in 2012, not only because Romney was unelectable, but because a plurality of Americans rejected GOP policies and their proposals. Faced with an uncertain future they are resorting to the only tool available to them to remain a viable option: cheating. What they are doing is dangerous and could have a major impact on the outcome of future elections.

        1. steven c January 23, 2013

          The Electoral is how Obama beat Romney. Romney won the popular vote, just like Gore did in 2000

          1. Lovefacts January 23, 2013

            Umm, actually, Obama received a little over 51% of the popular vote and Romney received 47% and 2% voted for other people.

          2. MARK January 23, 2013

            I was particularly pleased when that 47% came back on election day to bite Romney in the ass.

          3. docb January 24, 2013

            President Obama received close to 5 MILLION MORE VOTES THAN willard!

          4. Jim Myers January 23, 2013

            Replying to steven c –

            You gotta quit smokin’ that stuff.

          5. neeceoooo January 23, 2013

            Maybe he is drinking the cool-aid again.

          6. highpckts January 23, 2013

            What??? Check again!!

          7. old_blu January 23, 2013

            You’re a liar!

          8. BDC_57 January 23, 2013

            Did you know that the teabaggers are liars.

          9. Lynda January 23, 2013

            steve c, I will pretend that you seriously believe what you stated and that you need the real numbers presented to you. Here they are:

            Obama 65,899,660 votes Romney 60,929,152 votes
            Obama 51.1% and Romney 47.2%

            As you can clearly see you are wrong in your assumption. Glad to be of help is clearing that up for you.

          10. grammyjill January 23, 2013

            The President won the popular vote by over 5 million votes. Check your facts next time you wish to spew.

          11. J. Justin Knoop April 27, 2013

            Look at simple facts before you spout your gop-invented and Fox news propagated manure.

      2. steven c January 23, 2013

        Without the option to block bills that one party endorses we do not have a democracy we have dictatorship which is exactly what Harry Reid and President Obama want.

        1. Michael January 23, 2013

          What we have had for the last four years is a dictatorship of the minority, who have used the filibuster to block everything. The Senate has been unable to do anything due to the vastly excessive misuse of the filibuster.

    2. gmonteri January 23, 2013

      Mr. Vila, you might want to take a closer look at the the 2014 Senate races. By my estimation, there are probably a half-dozen problematic races for Democrats and no real problems for the GOP (unless Maine Republicans choose another Tea Party idiot instead of Susan Collins who would coast to re-election. The rest of the GOP races are in deep red states and those good old boys will win easily. The endangered Democrats up in 2014 are from Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina (purple at best), South Dakota, West Virginia, as well as several other states that are perfectly capable of electing Republicans. I would love to be absolutely confident of Dem success in 2014, but I think it will be very tough sledding. You’re right that a filibuster rule change could be trouble for Democrats, especially if they are in the minority, but they have to do something. It’s the only way to get anything worthwhile done this year and next.

      1. sigrid28 January 24, 2013

        A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

  5. steven c January 23, 2013

    Harry Reid is the worst politician in Washington when it comes to bi-partisan politics. This mook has stalled the political process for years while he has lined his pockets. American politics needs term limits to infuse fresh ideas into our system

    1. Rvn_sgt6768 January 23, 2013

      I believe you mean Mitch not Harry if we are to go by the facts. but if we are to just make up facts as you did above in claiming your boy mittey won the popular vote (which he lost by over 5 million votes) then in your reality I suppose you are correct. Try learning something about the filibuster first before you post next time.

    2. nancy January 23, 2013

      Please stop with your name calling. We are not children we do not have to act like one.

  6. montanabill January 23, 2013

    Republican obstruction preventing the judiciary from functioning properly. Obviously, LOLGOP’s memory is very selective.

    Good ol’ Harry won’t do anything, like allow debate and votes on House passed bills, or putting together a budget for 4 years, because he doesn’t have 60 votes. Oh, the poor man!

  7. neve min January 23, 2013

    Let majority rule in a democracy. That will work just as well for repubs as it would for dems. The House or Senate can and will change majority in future and what’s good for goose is also good for the gander will apply. Harry, go nuclear. And then see what the dems do when the shoe is on the other foot.

    How on earth a minority party says how the majority will be defined is beyond any reason. Majority means 51% or 50.00000000001%, not 60% or 67%.

  8. neve min January 23, 2013

    Repubs are hurting their chances in ’14 because they are painting themselves into a corner as obstructionists. As ‘obstructionists’ they can lose the House in ’14. National elections are not won or lost by dems or repubs, its the independents who decide. Romney could not learn this simple truth – he was beholden to the ultra-right-of-Attila-the-hoon faction of the party. And today he is pumping gas in his own car rather than sitting in the WH.

  9. neve min January 23, 2013

    If Harry goes nuclear and hets his way AND in future if the dems complain about ‘unfair treatment’ because of the level playing field created by dems they will pay in a big way.

    1. nancy January 23, 2013

      It is best to take a chance than do nothing. They should act no matter the consequencies.

  10. highpckts January 23, 2013

    Please tell us where you do get your “facts”!

  11. docb January 23, 2013

    Call Harry out and confirm filibuster legislation rules change..Not the mccain-levin BS!
    1.202.224. 3542 TODAY

    1. grammyjill January 23, 2013

      His mailbox is full.

      1. david allison January 24, 2013

        Plus, Harry aparently doesn’t care what we say about the filibuster. He is gutless. He is not a leader so he and McConnell will present a slushy piece of cr*p rule or legislation that the right wing republicans frightened democrats can give them permission to adopt – but that they will still vote against.. So much for climate change, womens’ rights, and anything more progressive than naming a post office.

    2. docb January 24, 2013

      Try these numbers..1.866.338.3405 or 1.866.220.0044

  12. david allison January 23, 2013

    The 41 votes is already too much compromise. If a filibuster is called, the member should speak. No more silent filibusters or threats. America cannot withstand four more years of Republican obstruction.

  13. dalnb January 23, 2013

    I think Harry Reid knows how devastating the Republicans in the Senate (and in Congress) have been in working to ensure a failure in the Obama Administration. Senator Mitch McConnell openly stated the GOPs first goal was to ensure Obama fails! In their continued efforts to gain that failure they must take credit for the failure of many efforts intended to achieve national recovery. The Republicans could not allow Obama to end his first term in office with any major success as that would ensure his reelection.

    Harry Reid has seen, as many in and out of Washington have witnessed in the past four years, the movement away from radical Republican agendas. Even senior GOP leaders’ voted against Tea Party candidates in 2010, some giving up their careers to see the right people were elected into office in spite of the fact they were Democrats rather than Tea Party Republicans.

  14. Brian January 23, 2013

    Fatwah on RepubliCon senators!

  15. david allison January 24, 2013

    Harry Reid has backed down to McConnell. Again. There will be no 41 vote rule and there will be no talking filibuster.

  16. jim January 24, 2013

    Debbie Stabenow would NOT appreciate that “(R)” you have next to her name. She’s most definitely a Democrat, and a good one at that

  17. Jimmy Z January 24, 2013

    What a great big load of crap. Reid hated the nuclear option, now he’s embraced it. Hypocrisy rules the day on the left. The rules are the rules. If you can’t get a few Republicans to vote for your leftist schemes, maybe there’s something wrong with them Pretty simple.

  18. jimmy w January 25, 2013

    i don’t know about nuclear, but drone on some of them would be great.


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