Who can blame Harry Reid for pulling the nuclear option, eliminating the filibuster on judicial nominees? He has punched Senate Republicans in the face all year and they have failed to respond. In fact, Senate Republicans have turned around and fought their fellow Republicans in the House, jamming them with bad legislation which they helped Harry Reid pass out of the Senate.
Throughout the past few years, aside for a few judicial nominees, Republicans have been willing to grant Democrats a super-majority on major liberal initiatives. They helped Reid pass amnesty. They gave him the votes for the massive farm/food stamp bill. They were all in the tank for the deceptively-named Violence Against Women Act. They recently gave him the 60 votes for ENDA. And most importantly, they stood shoulder to shoulder with Reid against House Republicans during the most important time when conservatives were united behind defunding Obamacare.
So why would Harry Reid fear reprisal from Republicans? What would stop him from pulling the nuclear option?
When he threatened the nuclear option earlier this year, Republicans agreed to let through the most radical nominees for Obama’s second term cabinet. Reid figured he’d go all the way this week.
And based on Mitch McConnell’s reaction, his wager was correct. Instead of fighting fire with fire, McConnell is basically saying we can’t do anything until after the elections:
“The solution to this problem is an election,” McConnell said at a Thursday press conference after the Senate voted to go nuclear, changing the rules of the filibuster.
“The solution to this problem’s at the ballot box,” McConnell said. “We look forward to having a great election in November 2014.” […]
“I don’t think this is a time to be talking about a reprisal,” he said. “I think it’s at time to be sad about what’s been done to the United States Senate.” [Daily Caller]
I’m sure Harry Reid is scared to death.
There is one simple thing Republicans can do to retaliate. They can start by ending the Democrat super-majority on legislative issues. They can easily pledge to filibuster every piece of legislation and deny all requests for unanimous consent until the rules change is overturned.
How would Harry Reid respond to a complete shutdown of the Senate? Would he abolish the filibuster even for legislation? Let him try. But for now, he has nothing to fear from just eliminating the filibuster on judges because he knows Republicans will not retaliate. Reid knows that there is not a single issue where McCain, Corker, Graham, and Alexander will now withhold support simply because they were stiffed with the nuclear option.
Just an hour after Reid blew up the Senate, Republicans rewarded him by not objecting to the first unanimous consent. Every day, standing committees need consent to conduct hearings. This is a prime opportunity to grind the Senate to a halt until Reid changes his ways.
Harry Reid has identified a soft target. And until we change GOP leadership in the Senate, he will keep punching.