Tags: mitch mcconnell | ends | filibuster | loretta lynch | attorney | general | avoid

Report: McConnell Helped End Lynch Filibuster to Avoid Nuclear Option

By    |   Thursday, 23 Apr 2015 10:21 PM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell secured more than 60 votes to end a filibuster that eventually led to Loretta Lynch being confirmed as attorney general, according to a report.

The Hill reports that McConnell, who leads the Republican-controlled Senate, was trying to avoid debating whether to erase the so-called "nuclear option" from Senate procedure.

In 2013, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid changed Senate rules to allow what has been called the nuclear option, which reduced the number of votes needed to end a filibuster from 60 to 51.

In the Lynch case, The Hill reports McConnell was able to gather upwards of 60 votes to put an end to the filibuster to bring Lynch's confirmation vote to the floor.

If the motion to break up the filibuster would have garnered fewer than 60 votes, McConnell could have been forced to revive the debate about ditching the nuclear option and returning to the 60-vote minimum to end filibusters, a long-standing practice.

"He wanted to avoid the conundrum for having to decide whether to overturn the nuclear option," a Republican senator told The Hill.

"It would have taken just one person to object to the ruling of the chair. It would have been very clumsy."

Twenty GOP senators voted to end the filibuster, a group that included McConnell, Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn of Texas, and Senate GOP Conference Chairman John Thune of South Dakota.

The motion to end the filibuster passed 66-34, while Lynch was confirmed by a 56-43 vote.

A Senate aide, meanwhile, told The Hill McConnell's goal of securing 60 votes to end the filibuster was less about returning to the debate over the nuclear option and more about not giving "credence" to Reid's decision to bring it back in 2013.

"He's doing this because he does not want to give credence to the Reid position that you ought to be able to get these people confirmed with less than 60 votes," the aide told The Hill.

In 2013, Reid implemented a simple majority policy to end filibusters of nominees to the executive and judicial branches. It effectively ended filibusters in these instances, since the controlling party in the Senate has at least 51 votes.

Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham are among a group of senators who want the filibuster rules to return to 60 votes.

"I think 60 votes for cloture is good on multiple fronts," Graham said, reports The Hill. "It shows recognition the president deserves an up-or-down vote on his nominees, in this case the attorney general."

Graham was one of just a handful of GOP senators who publicly supported Lynch's nomination to lead the Department of Justice.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is running for president on the Republican ticket, has been opposed to Lynch's nomination and was unhappy with how Thursday's votes played out. He was the only senator to skip the confirmation vote.

"Eric Holder began disregarding the Constitution and laws after he was confirmed as attorney general," Cruz said on the Senate floor Thursday morning. "Ms. Lynch has told the Senate that's what she's going to do. And that means each and every one of us bears responsibility. In my view, no senator can vote for this confirmation consistent with his or her oath."

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell secured more than 60 votes to end a filibuster that eventually led to Loretta Lynch being confirmed as attorney general, according to a report.
mitch mcconnell, ends, filibuster, loretta lynch, attorney, general, avoid, nuclear, option, senate
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2015-21-23
Thursday, 23 Apr 2015 10:21 PM
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