Reid in 2008 Said 'Nuclear Option' Would 'Ruin Our Country'

Image: Reid in 2008 Said 'Nuclear Option' Would 'Ruin Our Country' Sen. Harry Reid with former Sen. Tom Daschle in April 2008.

Thursday, 21 Nov 2013 10:39 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Sen. Harry Reid vowed in 2008 that he would never invoke the "nuclear option" as long as he was Senate majority leader. saying it would "ruin our country" — yet that's exactly what happened Thursday.

"As long as I am the leader, the answer’s 'no,'" the Nevada Democrat told Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota in an interview on C-SPAN.

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Reid was talking about his book, "The Good Fight," which he co-wrote with Mark Warren, in during the interview, which was put in the spotlight Thursday in a Washington Free Beacon report.

"I think we should just forget that," said Reid, who was battling Republicans who sought the measure. "That is a black chapter in the history of the Senate. I hope we never, ever get to that again because I really do believe it will ruin our country."

Reid orchestrated Thursday's move, which led to Democrats voting 52-48 to let a simple majority confirm most presidential nominees — stripping Republicans of the filibuster, their primary weapon in blocking such selections.

The change would not apply to nominees to the Supreme Court or to legislation.

Here is the exchange with fellow Democrat Daschle, who was majority leader from 2001 to 2003:

Daschle: What was the nuclear option, and what likelihood is there that we’re going to have to face nuclear option-like questions again?

Reid: What the Republicans came up with was a way to change our country forever. They made a decision if they didn’t get every judge they wanted, every judge they wanted then they were going to make the Senate just like the House of Representatives. We would in fact have a unicameral legislature where a simple majority would determine whatever happens.

In the House of Representatives today, [Nancy] Pelosi’s the leader. Prior to that, it was [Dennis] Hastert. Whatever they wanted, Hastert or Pelosi, they get done. The rules over there allow that.

The Senate was set up to be different. That was the genius, the vision of our Founding Fathers, that this bicameral legislature which was unique, had two different duties. One was as Franklin said, to pour the coffee into the saucer and let it cool off. That’s why you have the ability to filibuster and to terminate filibuster.

They wanted to get rid of all that, and that’s what the nuclear option was all about.

Daschle: And is there any likelihood that we’re going to face circumstances like that again?

Reid: As long as I am the Leader, the answer’s no. I think we should just forget that. That is a black chapter in the history of the Senate. I hope we never, ever get to that again because I really do believe it will ruin our country. I said during that debate that in all my years in government, that was the most important thing I ever worked on.


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