‘Nuclear Option’ Launched Against Intransigent Republicans
By George E. Curry NNPA Columnist | 11/29/2013, 6 a.m.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a speech, “That’s the whole point. They don’t have anything. There’s nothing wrong with these people. There’s nothing wrong with their qualifications. They [Republicans] simply want to stall what goes on.”
If Republicans could have their way, they would stall until the next president is elected, hoping that person will be a Republican.
The breaking point came when Senate Republicans blocked three nominees – Patricia Millett, Cornelia “Nina” Pillard and Robert L. Wilkins – to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which reviews many actions taken by the executive branch and is considered the second most powerful court in the nation. All three are imminently qualified and emerged from committee hearings unblemished.
Finally, Democrats went nuclear. Now, confirmation should be easier for Obama’s appointments to head the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Housing Finance Agency and other agencies.
In addition, the change gives Obama a better chance of making progress on issues he listed in his inaugural speech, including immigration reform, climate change, income inequity and gun violence.
However, this will not mark the end of Congressional gridlock. House Republicans appear to be still captive of the ultra-conservative Tea Party and their counterparts in the Senate are still intent on opposing Obama’s initiatives.
Even with the nuclear option, GOP Senators plan to actively oppose President Obama. That’s fine, but at least the minority will no longer be able to thwart the will of the majority.
Some Republicans say the latest move will make them less inclined to cooperate with Democrats. It’s hard to imagine bipartisanship being much lower than it is. This “do nothing” Congress has enacted only 49 laws, the fewest since such records were first kept in 1947.
And some Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, say they will change even more rules once they regain the majority.
Majority rule is all Senate Democrats were seeking. They had been bullied long enough by the radical minority.