WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is considering changing Senate filibuster rules and potentially invoking the “nuclear option” in response to Republicans’ recent use of the procedure to block judicial nominees.
Senate rules currently require a two-thirds majority vote to proceed to a vote on a bill or a nomination, or to change the rules of the Senate. This gives the minority the power to block bills or nominees that they do not like by voting ‘no’ on the procedural vote to take up the bill. The nuclear option would change the rules to allow such things to pass with a simple majority.
“I’m at the point where we need to do something to allow government to function,” Reid said at a press conference Tuesday when asked if he would consider the nuclear option as a response to the blocking of three nominees to the Court of Appeals of the D.C. Circuit.
“I’m considering looking at the rules,” he added when pressed.
Some members of Reid’s caucus have voiced support for a rules change to streamline the process and stop the constant fight over nominees. Others, however, have said that changing the rules governing filibusters would harm the fabric of the Senate, and hurt Democrats if they were to lose the majority.
Still, Reid said, tradition was not a sufficient reason to keep the rules as they are.
“The world’s not like it was 30 years ago,” he said.
Reid said he would “insist on getting all three” of the nominees that Republicans have blocked in the past weeks confirmed.
“Qualified nominees deserve a simple yes or no vote,” he said.