WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has no regrets about changing the filibuster rules on administration nominees to benefit the senate majority when Democrats previously held the gavel in the upper chamber.
With an incoming Republican White House and Republican House and Senate in January, strategies Democrats used when they held the majority in both chambers appear to be coming back to haunt them, but outgoing leader Reid is not making excuses.
“When it’s all over [Clinton] would have won the election by 3 million people and we picked up two seats in the Senate. So, yes, we changed the rules. We had to change the rules. We had 98 judges,” Reid told reporters Tuesday. “And now with 48 senators we only need to pick up A few Republicans of goodwill stop some of these [Donald Trump] nominations.”
Incoming Minority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed saying that Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price, who President-elect Trump nominated for Health and Human Services Secretary Tuesday, would still have a rough time getting confirmed in a Senate where Republicans edge out Democrats. Schumer believes some Republicans will turn their backs on a nominee like Price for his position on Medicare.
“On this kind of issue privatizing Medicare, we expect Republicans joining with us. There is a whole number of Republicans who are not going to be for privatizing Medicare,” Schumer said Tuesday. “There ought to be bipartisan support against a secretary who is going to privatize Medicare and not fund Planned Parenthood.”
Schumer also previously called for a “thorough vetting” of Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, who Trump nominated for Attorney General, telling Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace that Sessions’s senator’s status should not exempt him from a tough confirmation hearing.
California Democratic Sen. Feinstein told The Daily Caller Tuesday that the members “want time to do the necessary research.”
“I told Senator Sessions this. The President-elect said, ‘This is my Attorney General.’ There is no such thing. This is the peoples’ Attorney General. The president makes the appointment, but [the A.G.] works for the people and the constitution,” Feinstein said.
Sessions was denied a federal judgeship in 1986 when the Senate did not confirm him as a result of claims that he made controversial statements in the past. Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe calls it “poetic justice” that Sessions now sits on the committee that once passed judgment on him.
“I think that everybody knows him well. The guy has been there for 20 years. And under all the scrutiny. There’s nothing they don’t know about Jeff sessions. And I think that should be a very easy vetting,” Inhofe said.
Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, however, wants to see a “full background check” done on Sessions.
“There should be a very thorough and vigorous scrutiny about his position on important issues like voting rights and other civil rights issues and when it’s healthcare and immigration reform and there will be a full background check as part of the investigation that takes place for the judiciary committee just as there is for every nominee,” Blumenthal told TheDC, noting later he had not decided that whether he would vote to confirm or not confirm Sessions.
West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, however, plans to support and vote for Sessions.
“I like Jeff. Jeff is a friend of mine. I’ve been around Jeff for six years. We’ve been in every type of setting you could possibly be into and there was never one time that would lead me to believe that Jeff was just not a fair upstanding person. I never got these things that I’m hearing happened 30 or 40 years ago I never saw a trace of any of that,” he told The DC.