Republicans Vow to Retaliate Against Reid's Nuclear Option

Sunday, 09 Oct 2011 03:25 PM

By Paul Scicchitano

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Republicans are vowing to retaliate against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s invocation of a little-used “nuclear option.”

Reid, D-Nev., voted with 50 of his Democratic colleagues to overturn a Senate parliamentarian’s ruling, thereby breaking a Senate precedent that allowed Republicans to force votes to proceed to non-germane amendments, The Hill reports.

Reid offered to work out differences with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., but McConnell had not yet indicated whether he was interested in such a meeting.

“I’m sure we can all cinch up our belts and, as they say in the old and new testament, gird our loins and try to do a better job of how we get along here,” The Hill quotes Reid as saying. He and McConnell struck up the gentlemen’s agreement at the start of the year, with Reid promising opportunities to offer amendments, and McConnell agreeing not to filibuster motions to proceed to non-controversial legislation.

“One of the things I want to do is have a joint caucus,” Reid said. “I want to have one with Democratic senators and Republican senators and at that time we can all talk about some of the frustrations we all have.”

Senate watchers say the ramifications of Reid’s decision to invoke the nuclear option are likely to include forcing him to obtain 60 votes for even the most mundane matters, something that in the past was could be avoided with unanimous consent.

“Usually if you set off a nuke, you’re responsible for the fallout," Eric Ueland, who was chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., told The Hill. “There’s likely to be fallout here to the extent members on either side of the aisle feel this new gag rule impedes their ability to legislate. That has ramifications down the line.”


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