Senate GOP: Nuclear Option Intended to Distract from Obamacare Failure
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is aiming to distract from Obamacare’s failures by changing Senate rules to slip through scores of controversial Obama nominees, senior Republicans say.
Reid went to the Senate floor on Thursday to make his case to break the Senate rules in order to change them so that a 60-vote threshold is not necessary for presidential nominees. Reid has been using the argument that there is a need to rush through Obama’s nominees for the D.C. court system, despite the court's low case load which has left most lawmakers believing there is not a need for new judges.
“Reid's proposed changes would eliminate filibusters on most judicial and executive branch nominees, but preserve the filibuster for Supreme Court picks,” Politico reported on Thursday morning. “Reid is prepared to invoke the so-called ‘nuclear option’ - which would change the rules by a simple majority vote, instead of 67 votes, according to leadership aides.”
Reid preluded his threatened action on Thursday morning, holding a rare vote to reconsider the nomination of the failed nomination of Patricia Ann Millett to the D.C. Circuit Court. The vote failed 57-40 with three senators voting present. It needed 60 votes to succeed.
Even so, Senate Republicans united behind Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call to stop the nuclear option. McConnell went to the Senate floor on Thursday right after Reid to argue against Reid's strategy and to accuse Reid’s efforts of simply being an attempt to distract from the ongoing failures of Obamacare.
“Just yesterday, I saw a story about a guy getting a letter in the mail saying his dog, his dog had qualified for insurance under Obamacare,” McConnell said on the Senate floor in response to Reid. “So yeah, I would probably be running for the exit, too, if I had supported this law. I would be looking to change the subject, change the subject just as Senate Democrats have been doing with their threats of going nuclear and changing the Senate rules on nominations."
"If I were a Senator from Oregon for example, which hasn’t enrolled a single person—a single person—for the Obamacare exchange, I’d probably want to talk about something else, too,” McConnell said. He added that this effort to distract from Obamacare will actually end up backfiring on Reid, as it shows the true nature of how Democrats operate.
“But here’s the problem with this latest distraction: It doesn’t distract people from Obamacare,” McConnell said. “It reminds them of Obamacare. It reminds them of all the broken promises. It reminds them of the power grab. It reminds them of the way Democrats set up one set of rules for themselves and another for everybody else. One set of rules for them, and another for everybody else."
"Actually, this is all basically the same debate. And rather than distract people from Obamacare, it only reinforces the narrative of a party that is willing to do and say just about anything to get its way," he continued. "Because that’s just what they’re doing all over again. Once again, Senate Democrats are threatening to break the rules of the Senate in order to the change the rules of the Senate. Over what? Over a court that doesn’t even have enough work to do?"
"Millions of Americans are hurting because of a law Washington Democrats forced upon them, and what do they do about it? They cook up some fake fight over judges, a fake fight over judges that aren’t even needed,” McConnell blasted.
Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the chairman of the Senate GOP conference, agreed with McConnell’s assessment that Reid is just trying change the subject from Obamacare. “Senate Democrats are desperate to talk about anything other than the disastrous train wreck of ObamaCare,” Thune said in a statement provided to Breitbart News by his office. “With millions of Americans facing dropped coverage, sticker shock from premium hikes, and the loss of access to their doctor, it’s not surprising that Democrats would want to change the subject away from all of their broken ObamaCare promises. Unfortunately for Americans, they don’t have the luxury of simply changing the subject.”
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, have been fighting against Reid’s efforts for a long time, arguing that the judgeships Reid is trying to fill do not need to be filled anyway. Sessions and Grassley have legislation that would actually move some of those judgeships to appeals courts where they are needed more than the D.C. court.
Sessions said on the Senate floor on Oct. 31 that Obama appears to be aiming to game the court system to fit his political agenda. “We started looking at the case numbers when President Clinton was in office,” Sessions said. “I, along with Senator Chuck Grassley, both Republicans, blocked President Bush from filling a vacancy, because that court did not need another judge and they wanted to fill it."
"Let's be frank. Presidents want to fill the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals because they think they can shift the balance there and be able to advance their agenda throughout the judicial process because a lot of key cases are filed there, and lobbyists and outside forces that care about judges want the Presidents to put their kind of people in those positions--maybe even their law partner or their friend or their political buddy on that court," he explained. "We have no money in this country to fund a judgeship that is not needed,” he added.