Harry Reid Goes Nuclear


Finally, after Republican obstruction on bill after bill Senate Majority leader Harry Reid finally pushed back, invoking a procedural motion that could change the way the Senate operates for years to come.

That’s right. Sen. Reid went nuclear.

The move stunned Republicans who probably thought Reid didn’t have it in him to take drastic measures since, for the last year-and-a-half, Republicans have been able to use the filibuster to block votes on legislation that would pass on a simple majority (like the DREAM Act, for example).

The backdrop to this procedural drama is this: For several days Senate Republican leaders have tried to force a vote on the American Jobs Act knowing that Democrats have not yet whipped together enough votes for it to pass. Republicans wont vote for the bill anyways, so this is all about embarrassing Democrats.

To accomplish this, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) moved to add two GOP amendments to a bipartisan bill intended to punish China for manipulating its currency. One of those amendments was a version of the president’s jobs plan. In order to push that amendment (the jobs plan) through McConnell intended to file a motion to suspend the rules, which would require a supermajority and which would fail. Republicans could then run on the “fact” that the president’s jobs bill had failed.

But Reid plans to put a version of the bill up for vote this week and blocked Republicans’ efforts with the “nuclear option”– a procedural ruling from the parliamentarian that changes the minority’s ability to introduce amendments when a filibuster is defeated. Under the Reid rule change a simple majority of 51 votes can block the amended version of the AJA that McConnell was trying to push through the chamber.

Reid’s move abandons years of precedent and his a high risk move, especially should Democrats lose control of the Senate in 2012. But to Reid’s defense, Senate Republicans have manipulated Senate procedural rules to the point of no longer governing in good faith. And Reid said as much. Republicans don’t want to legislate, they want to campaign. All you have to do is look to the tens of thousands taking to American streets in protest to see the effect of those Republican efforts.


Photo from thw05 via flickr.


Hope S.
Hope Sellers5 years ago

Way to go Harry!

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

Congress looks more and more like a schoolyard full of bullies and dunces.

Robert S.
Robert S5 years ago

This will come back and bite Harry and theDems when the Republicans are back in control after 2012.

Mercedes Lackey
Mercedes Lackey5 years ago

“Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.
“A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner." .” Republican Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren

William Eagle
Bill Eagle5 years ago

Glad to see Reed show some Cajones..

Linda T.
Linda T5 years ago

Way to go Harry. The Republicans change the rules everytime they can to benefit them not the people.

Karen and Ed O.
Karen and Ed O5 years ago

See what the voice of the people can do?

Carole L.
Carole L5 years ago

Jamie C.
“We are in deep deep trouble friends. You think this is a good thing? What exactly do you think is going to happen the next time that the republicans gain control of the Senate? They will push every single piece of nasty legislation through with the nuclear option and we will have no way to prevent it. We are utterly F*&^d”

You mean like they did when they were the majority during BushChiny Dark Shadow Lord years?

Carole L.
Carole L5 years ago


Robert D.
“Agree or disagree, you have to at least applaud a politician for voting what they believe, as opposed to voting what they think will get them elected again,”

You mean like what the GOTPARTY is doing. Who's stated only goal is to "make Obama a one term president". So, what kind of legislation is that? And who does it benefit, exactly?

Carole L.
Carole L5 years ago

Paul B.
“I am speechless... You are applauding the destruction of congressional rules, meant to protect the integrity of legislation???

And once the Dem lose control of the Senate, and eventually they will, will you be okay when the Reps take equal advantage of the rules that your beloved Reid invoked.”

I do agree partially however, the Nuclear Option is the ‘brain child’ of repulicon party when they were in control under Bush and wanted to silence the minority Democratic Party. Maybe this will be a lesson to all to reinstate the ‘real ‘“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”’ filibuster’. And not the phony; ‘call it in from the hot tub with martini in hand, meet ya on the golf course,’ Filibuster such as the republicons have been utilizing at every turn since Obama was sworn in.

Steve R.
“Jobs are "CREATED" by a sound, healthy private sector that is not taxed and regulated to death!”

Really? So the last 10+ years they haven’t been regulated or taxed (hence the bailout). So… where are all these jobs you fright right shills keep screeching about magically materializing? By your logic we should all be rolling in jobs. As it stands now, there are 20 ppl per 1 available job. Hence OWS revolution.

Robert D.
“Agree or disagree, you have to at least applaud a politician for voting what they believe, as opposed to voting what they think will get them elected again,”

You mean li