ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES
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ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES
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The Democratic-controlled Senate today voted to invoke the so-called nuclear option out of frustration over Republicans who have been blocking President Barack Obama’s nominees.
The controversial move is a rules change that could make a partisan environment even more divisive because it takes away the right for the Senate’s minority party to filibuster.
Under the old rules it took 60 votes to break a filibuster. The change now allows most filibusters of Obama nominees to be stopped with 51 votes — a simple Senate majority.
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In 2005, at a similar crisis point, senators from both parties agreed that they would only filibuster a judicial nominee under “extraordinary circumstances.” However, despite the fact that many of the Republicans who were central to that agreement are still in office, now they are ignoring it.
These same Republicans are refusing to allow a vote on anyone President Obama nominates for the court, and not because of “extraordinary circumstances.” Instead, they are pushing to eliminate the vacant seats on this court altogether because they don’t want anyone Obama nominates to serve.
There’s a new normal in the Senate–at least for now.
Democrats and Republicans came to an agreement on filibuster rules Tuesday morning, averting threats of a Harry Reid “nuclear option” (and the GOP ire that would have come with it), allowing most of the president’s nominations to proceed unobstructed. The deal’s bottom line is that Democrats will leave filibuster rules in place and Senate Republicans will confirm nominations of several Obama cabinet members. The deal is considered a win for the president. But while the nuclear option was averted this time, it remains on the table for future conflicts.
Majority Leader Harry Reid explained to Chris Hayes on Tuesday night that he needs to keep that option. “I have to have the ability to protect not only the Senate, but the country…Listen, they wanna filibuster, let them filibuster. And we’ll override those filibusters and if they get too out of hand, we’ll revisit all of these things again.” This is the third time the nuclear threat has been given in the past two and half years, but Reid felt comfortable saying that the three-plus hour long meeting in the Old Senate chambers on Monday night marked “a new norm” for the Senate.
Use of the nuclear option has been brought up twice before during Reid’s leadership. While an important tool to break through gridlock, the nature of D.C. politics means that as much as it can help, it can also hurt. “There’s recognition on both sides that the shoe can be on the other foot rather quickly and that people in the majority today will be in the minority tomorrow, and vice versa,” said Texas Republican John Cornyn. The GOP attempted to invoke this tactic in 2005.
Yes, these are the leaders of our nation.
Texas State Sen. Wendy Davisbecame a household name Tuesday night when, standing in a pair of iconic pink sneakers, the Fort Worth Democrat spent 11 hours filibustering to prevent the passage of a sweeping anti-abortion bill supported by prominent Republicans.
Davis, 50, a teenage mother who graduated from Harvard Law School and went on to win a seat in the Texas Senate, couldn’t use the restroom, eat, drink, sit or lean during the filibuster, according to Texas rules.
But she could talk.
Davis received at least 13,000 story submissions from women who hoped she would read them on the Senate floor.