Reid under pressure to use “nuclear option” to limit minority party power (update)
You remember the post I did about the presidential appointments to the NLRB that were deemed by all but the Democrats to be illegal?
Well, there’s a move afoot to use what is being referred to as the “nuclear option” to fix that. The Washington Examiner explains:
Senate Democrats are considering invoking the so-called “nuclear option,” which would curb the minority party’s use of the filibuster and prevent Republicans from blocking presidential nominations.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., signaled privately to President Obama that he may change Senate rules this month so it would take only 51 votes – instead of the current 60 – to approve judicial and executive branch nominees.
Democrats now control 55 Senate votes. Republicans have 45, but the GOP often still asserts itself by using the filibuster to keep nominations or legislation from coming to a vote.
Republicans charge that imposing the nuclear option would virtually eliminate the minority party’s chief means of keeping the majority in check and jeopardize any potential bipartisan agreements on top-priority legislation, including immigration reform, the budget and tax reform.
So, what would happen in the case of the NLRB appointments? If Reid (who by the way, adamantly opposed such a rule change when he was in the minority and spoke eloquently – well as eloquently as is possible for Harry Reid – about how it destroyed the rights of the minority) does this, then 51 Democrats will dutifully line up and “legalize” the NLRB without the minority party having had any voice in the matter.
That’s not how our republic was supposed to function. In fact, our founders were just as adamant as Reid was previously about minority rights. James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 10, “the great danger in republics is that the majority will not respect the rights of minority.” President Thomas Jeffersonproclaimed in his first inaugural address, “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression.”
Reid, of course, now believes that to be poppycock. Instead he’d prefer that the minority simply hush and let he and the Democrats appoint whomever they wish whenever they wish. Of course, we all know how quickly his position would change should he suddenly become the minority leader again. And that should tell you all you need to know about why this is a terrible idea and one that he nor the Democrats would stand for were they on the other side of the line.
But then, political expediency seems to trump statesmanship today and we’re all the worse for it.
UPDATE: Ah, the other shoe drops:
The Hill reports: “The nuclear option strategy is gaining momentum in the Senate in part because of growing pressure from organized labor, which wants Reid to break the impasse over the NLRB. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka … will call for rules changes at the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank, Wednesday morning.”