Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday warned his Democratic counterpart not to change the chamber's rules to make it easier to confirm President Barack Obama's nominees.
"We've never changed the rules of the Senate by breaking the rules of the Senate in order to diminish the voices of individual Senators, we've never done that and we sure shouldn’t start it now, particularly since every one of the president's nominees that would be subject to this rule change have been confirmed," McConnell said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested his plans to dramatically alter rules and bypass Republicans opposing Obama's nominees would help Congress get things moving.
"Is there anyone out there in the real world that believes that what's going on in the Congress of the United States is good?" Reid said, also appearing on NBC. "Our approval rating is lower than North Korea's. It is really, really difficult."
The Nevada Democrat plans to out-maneuver Republican opposition to two National Labor Relations Board nominees plus one nominee to the Consumer Financial Protection Board by reducing the number of senators who must support a procedural vote.
Reid contends the drastic change to the historic rule is necessary because Republicans are using filibusters to impose a 60-vote threshold, rather than a simple majority, to block too many of Obama's nominees.
However, Republicans say only four of Obama's 1,540 nominees have been defeated and that the change in Senate rules, known in Washington circles as the "nuclear option," is coming from top labor officials who are pressuring Democrats and the administration to enact the change.
"Rather than getting down in the weeds on the rules, what is the problem here?" McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said in an interview following Reid's on NBC.
"He's getting (confirmations) faster than President Bush was at the same time in his second term," McConnell said.
"I hope we come to our senses and not change the core of the Senate," McConnell said.
Republicans say the change would do irreversible damage to the institution, allowing nominees to sail through the confirmation vote without sufficient floor debate as to their qualifications.
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