In a move that will likely come back to haunt him after the 2014 mid term elections, Senate Democratic Majority Leader (Dingy) Harry Reid deployed the nuclear option, effectively violating the customs and traditions of the Senate filibuster that Democrats have held so dear in the past.
— Legal Insurrection (@LegInsurrection) November 21, 2013
Reid’s new rules which were passed in the Senate by a close 52-48 vote, require only a simple majority for all executive and judicial nominees other than those to the Supreme Court.
The move is seen by many as a raw abuse of majority powers – (Senator Lamar Alexander, (R-TN) called it ObamaCare II) – and sets a precedent that Democrats will regret as soon as the Senate changes control – which could happen as soon as next year.
In 2005, when Bush was in power, Reid and his fellow Democrats were passionately against the nuclear option.
“The threat to change Senate rules is a raw abuse of power and will destroy the very checks and balances our founding fathers put in place to prevent absolute power by any one branch of government,” Reid said at the time.
He was joined in this denunciation of Republicans who were also considering the “nuclear option” by a number of his Democratic colleagues.
He reminded the chamber how the Obama administration and Democrats were willing to do and say anything in order to force ObamaCare on the public.
“The president and his Democratic allies were so determined to force their vision of healthcare on the public, they assured them up and down that they wouldn’t lose the plans they had, that they’d save money instead of losing it, and that they’d be able to use the doctors and hospitals they were already losing. But of course, we know, that rhetoric doesn’t match reality,” McConnell said.
After making note of the unmitigated disaster ObamaCare has become, he taunted “I’d be running for the exits, too, if I’d supported this law. I’d be looking to change the subject!”
He continued, “it doesn’t distract people from ObamaCare – it reminds them of ObamaCare. It reminds them of all the broken promises, it reminds them of the power grabs, 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.”
The question now is how to retaliate. In the short term, Republicans can use their power in the House of Representatives to block any of President Obama’s desired legislation, including immigration reform. In the medium term, Republicans must consider what to do when they take over the Senate–which could happen in the 2014 elections, if the public remains as outraged as it is now about the failure of Obamacare.
Republicans could extend the Democrats’ new rule and stack the courts (perhaps even the Supreme Court) after 2016. They could also eliminate the filibuster for ordinary bills as well, which would make repealing Obamacare easy. Or they could promise to reverse what Democrats had done, and restore the traditional protections of the minority. The latter may be best in the long run. But they will be in no rush to compromise.