Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is confident that he has enough votes to trigger the “nuclear option” to change the Senate’s rules on barring filibusters.
Reid spent several days this week heavily lobbying Senate Democrats to obtain at least 50 votes to invoke the so-called nuclear option, The Hill reports
Under current Senate rules, a 67-vote majority is needed to change the rules, but Reid would circumvent that by making a point of order that senators should be prohibited from filibustering executive-branch nominees.
And, as such, the change would allow the Senate to confirm Obama’s most controversial nominees with simple majority votes, The Hill reports.
“If Democrats actually do the nuclear option, it would reduce the confirmation process to one-party rule,” John Ashbrook, a spokesman for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, told the publication.
Ashbrook noted how President Barack Obama could have more flexibility in appointing, for instance, a successor to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
“President Obama could install controversial nominees with a complicit Democrat majority and no real input from the opposition,” he told the publication in an email. “The selection of her replacement could be the first test of a scaled-back check on the president’s power.”
The Nevada senator expects to have 51 votes to make the change, which would prohibit Republicans from blocking the president’s executive branch nominees. Vice President Joe Biden could provide insurance by presiding over the Senate to break any tie vote, according to the publication.
Meanwhile, GOP senators charge that Reid’s move would forever “change the character of the Senate” — and they threatened on Thursday to shut down the upper chamber until next year’s election.
Republicans also warn the move could undermine confidence as immigration reform efforts move through Congress.
Reid, however, has scheduled a rare Democratic-Republican caucus session on Monday to quell mounting tensions, but Democrats doubt it will yield a result.
Republicans requested the bipartisan session, the publication added..
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