Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Tuesday that he is considering changing Senate rules to prevent Republicans from filibustering President Obama’s judicial nominees.
“I’m at the point where we need to do something to allow government to function,” Reid said when asked if he would consider using the nuclear option, a controversial procedural tactic for changing Senate rules.
The proposed rules change would not affect Supreme Court nominees, said Democratic sources.
The tactic would allow Democrats to change the Senate’s rules with a simple-majority vote.
“The Founding Fathers never had any place in the Constitution about filibusters or extended debate,” Reid told reporters. “This country operated fairly well for 140 years without filibuster protection.”
Reid said he will insist that Republicans allow up-or-down votes on all three of Obama’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals: Patricia Millet, an appellate litigator; Cornelia Pillard, a professor at Georgetown Law School; and Robert Wilkins, a district court judge for the District of Columbia.
On Monday, Reid fell six votes short of ending debate on Wilkins’s nomination. He was the third nominee to the court blocked by a filibuster in recent weeks.
He vigorously defended all three nominees’ qualifications; “Look at their educational background, look at their experience in the law, look at their moral integrity,” he said. “Why should we agree to something less than the law of the country?”
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