Reid and Senate move closer to deal on Obama nominees
By Sarah Rosier
On July 15, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he would ask the Senate to change the rules through a July 16 vote that would ban filibusters for executive nominees. Many are calling a possible rule change Reid's nuclear option.
This came after Republican senators were refusing confirmation for President Obama's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) nominees. A Supreme Court ruling is likely in 2014 regarding the legality of recess and interim appointments by Obama that have since been declared unconstitutional by lower courts.
The rule change would affect only executive branch nominations, not judicial nominees. Instead of requiring 60 senators' approval of a presidential nominee, a simple majority (51) would allow a nominee to be confirmed.
A Monday night bipartisan, closed-door meeting with 98 senators was held to try to resolve the gridlock without a rules change. According to Reid, "We've had a very good conversation." Around 36 senators spoke during the meeting with Reid speaking first, followed by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL).
Tuesday morning, when calling for a vote on CFPB nominee Richard Cordray, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) thanked his fellow members for their effort the night before at the meeting. Reid spoke following McCain, personally thanking McCain for his leadership during the meeting. As of Tuesday morning, there was no further word from Reid on a possible rules change.
A tentative agreement to avoid the nuclear option has been laid out that would require Obama to pull two nominees to the NLRB, Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, and replace them with nominees more likely to be confirmed. Senate Republicans would then allow the other five nominees to proceed through the confirmation process. To satisfy the deal, Obama nominated Kent Hirozawa, chief counsel to NLRB chairman, and Nancy Schiffer, general counsel at AFL-CIO, while withdrawing both Block and Griffin's nominations.
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- USA Today, "Democrat opposes Reid 'nuclear option' on nominees," accessed July 16, 2013
- Boston Globe, "Senator Harry Reid pushes to limit filibuster," accessed July 16, 2013
- Washington Post, "No filibuster deal, but senators agree they should meet more often," accessed July 16, 2013
- C-SPAN, "No Filibuster Deal Reached, Votes Set for Today," accessed July 16, 2013
- Politico, "Senate may buy more time on nuclear option," accessed July 16, 2013
- Washington Post, "Obama picks new NLRB nominees," June 16, 2013
- Politico, "Senate reaches tentative deal on nuclear option," July 16, 2013
- Huffington Post, "Filibuster Deal Averts 'Nuclear Option' As Senators Reach Tentative Agreement," July 16, 2013