Harry Reid: 'Nuclear Option' On The Table In Judicial Nominations

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Friday that he will consider enacting the so-called "nuclear option," or changing Senate rules by a simple majority vote, if judicial nominations do not start moving through the Senate, Roll Call reports.

During an interview with Nevada Public Radio, Reid warned that he was willing to make drastic changes to Senate rules if action is not taken on the ballooning number of stalled judicial nominees.

“All within the sound of my voice, including my Democratic senators and the Republican senators who I serve with, should understand that we as a body have the power on any given day to change the rules with a simple majority, and I will do that if necessary," Reid said.

"If the Republicans in the Senate don’t start approving some judges and don’t start helping get some of these nominations done, then we’re going to have to take more action."

The "nuclear option" was floated by Reid during filibuster reform talks earlier this year. If taken, the simple majority vote would override the precedent of requiring a two-thirds supermajority to change filibuster rules. However, Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) instead agreed to a scaled-back reform deal in January after Republicans pushed back on Reid's threats.

"No party has ever broken the rules of the Senate to change those rules. I'm glad such an irreparably damaging precedent will not be set today," McConnell said in a statement in January.

However, Reid's latest comments signal that the precedent may be broken if action is not taken soon on the stalled judicial nominations. As The Washington Post reported earlier this week, 15 nominations are currently awaiting a vote on the Senate floor, including 13 nominees who already cleared unanimous committee votes.

In the Nevada Public Radio interview, Reid also pointed to Republican obstruction of Richard Cordray's nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“We have not been able to confirm a person for that job. They refuse to allow us to bring that up, and -- and he was recess-appointed. Now, we have the Republican-dominated D.C. Court of Appeals who have said, 'look, the president can’t even do recess appointments now,'” Reid told NPR in January of Cordray's nomination. “So, we’re left with few alternatives, and we’re going to have to move forward and do something to change that.”



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