When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid went nuclear Nov. 21 and changed Senate rules to limit filibusters on most nominees, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) decried the move, saying, “The solution to this problem is at the ballot box. We look forward to having a great election in 2014.”
McConnell added: “I don’t think this is a time to be talking about reprisal. I think it’s a time to be sad about what has been done to the United States Senate.” (Of course Reid, back when the Republicans were in the majority and thinking about changing the rules, said such a move would be “illegal” and “un-American.”)
So, if the Republicans retake the Senate after the November elections, will they restore the old filibuster rules? If Jeb or Mitt win in 2016, things could get really interesting.
Reid, since triggering the option, has been slowly getting nominees, especially President Obama’s judicial nominees, confirmed, though Republicans have used Senate rules to dramatically slow down nominations.
Lately though, some Senate observers are detecting hints of more bipartisan agreement in confirming non-controversial nominees. We were told that, although it would be an overstatement to call it a “thaw” in the post-nuclear-freeze climate, there has been, one source said, a “steady trickle” of confirmations of late.
Earlier this month, the Senate confirmed three Obama nominees to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which oversees some potentially risky trades, such as ones that helped trigger the 2008 economic meltdown.
And last week two leaders agreed to move, probably this week, on several more nominees, including Brian A. Nichols to be ambassador to Peru, Gustavo Velasquez Aguilar to be assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development, J. Mark McWatters to be a member of the National Credit Union Administration board and Christine E. Wormuth to be undersecretary of defense.
Next weekend, Nichols, a career Foreign Service officer and Latin America hand, will mark the first anniversary of his nomination. Well, you don’t want to rush these things.