If Harry Reid gets his way, President Obama won’t have to worry about appointing a new Homeland Security secretary that is acceptable to Senate Republicans.
Napolitano’s resignation from the department on Friday comes as the Democratic majority leader is threatening to invoke “the nuclear option” and change the Senate’s rules to allow administration appointees to sail through confirmation without threat of Republican filibustering.
Under that scenario, Napolitano’s replacement would likely be the first major appointment made in the post-“nuclear option” era where Republicans would have no ability to stop the confirmation of a nominee they find unacceptable.
“The selection of her replacement could be the first test of a scaled-back check on the President’s power,” John Ashbrook, a spokesman for Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, told The Daily Caller.
When it comes to appointing cabinet officials, the Constitution says the president shall nominate a candidate with the “advice and consent of the Senate.”
“If Democrats actually do the nuclear option, it would reduce the confirmation process to one party rule,” Ashbrook said. “President Obama could install controversial nominees with a complicit Democrat majority and no real input from the opposition.”
It was announced Friday that Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona, will leave office in September to become president of the University of California system.
The “nuclear option” means Senate rules would only require 51 votes to end a filibuster on administration nominees, instead of 60.
The Senate is currently made up of 52 Democrats, 46 Republicans and two independents, meaning Obama could nominate virtually anyone despite Republican opposition if all Democrats supported his pick.
Reid has argued the rules need changing because of Republicans are blocking too many nominees. “It is a disturbing trend when Republicans are willing to block executive branch nominees even when they have no objection to the qualifications of the nominee,” Reid said Thursday.
But McConnell says Reid has concocted “a phony crisis” over certain nominees in order to push through the changes.
“Senate Democrats are gearing up today to make one of the most consequential changes to the United States Senate in the history of our nation,” McConnell said Thursday. “And I guarantee you, it is a decision that, if they actually go through with it, they will live to regret.”