The 2 videos you need to watch before tonight’s closed-door Senate meeting

July 15, 2013

The Senate will meet in a closed door (booooo!) special session in the Old(e) Senate Chamber tonight as they try to avoid triggering the so-called nuclear option.


The Old Senate Chamber. Alex Brandon/AP

Over the past few days, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) have accused the other of going back on their past statements on filibusters.

So, who's right? They both are! Thanks to the C-SPAN Video Library (amazing!) and Fix friend Ben O'Connell, we present these two videos -- one of Reid, one of McConnell -- essentially arguing the exact opposite point they will be, presumably, arguing behind closed doors tonight.

Let's start with Reid and his thoughts on the nuclear option from September 2008.

At that time, Reid said that the 2005 showdown over changing the filibuster rules on judicial nominees would "change out country forever" and, even worse, "make the Senate just like the House of Representatives. (Gasp!)

He also insisted that as long as he was the leader of Senate Democrats the nuclear option wouldn't be on the table; "That is a black chapter in the history of the Senate," Reid said.

Then there was McConnell in 2005, defending the idea of changing the rules.

McConnell made virtually the same argument then that Reid is making now. He cited the Constitution as laying out the ability to change Senate rules by a simple majority. He noted that the rules of the Senate have been changed many times in the past. He derided the "incredulous protestations" of those who opposed such a move.

The lesson? How you feel about the filibuster depend almost entirely on whether you are in the majority or the minority. It's either blockading for the sake of blockading that leads to gridlock or an important tool that allows the minority to be heard and without which the Senate will lose its identity.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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Sean Sullivan | July 15, 2013