October 15, 2009

The Nuclear Option in Health Care Reform?

Are you kidding me?  I swear it's so hard to not go nuclear personally noticing the hypocrisy.  Remember when the GOP wanted to use the nuclear option to force votes on Bush's court justice nominees?  They were decried as anti-democratic (small 'd').  From a story by PBS in 2005:
KWAME HOLMAN: It came as no surprise when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist released a statement this afternoon saying he would seek confirmation next week of two of President Bush's nominees for seats on Federal courts of appeals: Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown. Frist foreshadowed the announcement earlier this week at the capitol.
SEN. BILL FRIST: So, it's time for us to move to the issue of judges.

KWAME HOLMAN: Owen, Brown, William Myers and William Pryor, four of the president's most controversial judicial choices, all have had their nominations cleared by the Senate Judiciary Committee in recent weeks.

SEN. LINCOLN CHAFEE: Are there any senators wishing to vote or to change their vote?

KWAME HOLMAN: That happened during the president's first term as well. But each time, Democrats, using the filibuster, were able to block the four nominees from getting a confirmation vote. President Bush re-nominated the four again this year, but Democratic Leader Harry Reid has vowed the results will be no different.

SEN. HARRY REID: On the judges that have been brought forward previously, we're going to treat them just the same as we have in the past.

KWAME HOLMAN: Democrats again cite what they call rigid ideological positions of the candidates on issues such as gay rights, abortion and affirmative action. This time, however, Republicans are prepared to force up or down votes on the nominees, the so- called nuclear option.

It refers to their plan to strip Democrats of their ability to filibuster the nominees. The 55-strong Republican majority could change Senate rules to allow judicial confirmations by a simple majority vote. John Cornyn of Texas:

SEN. JOHN CORNYN: Fundamentally, what we have is a partisan minority blocking a bipartisan majority from being able to act on the Senate floor. And this is something that we think needs to come to an end.

KWAME HOLMAN: Democrats have been outraged by the suggestion and have said they will respond by using procedural delays to slow Senate business virtually to a crawl. New York's Chuck Schumer:

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER: We're right on the edge of one of the most important moments in the history of the republic.

PROTESTER SPOKESPERSON: This is what activism should be.

KWAME HOLMAN: That sentiment also was heard outside the Capitol all week long. There, members of Congress and interest groups joined forces to raise the volume of their arguments.

GROUP: Up or down. Up or down.

KWAME HOLMAN: But there's no guarantee Republicans can exercise the nuclear option. Nearly half a dozen members of the party have signaled they may not support the move. That could put Bill Frist's vote count below the 51 necessary to pull it off. Nebraska's Chuck Hagel:

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL: The president's nominees deserve votes, but at the same time, I think it's important that we maintain the minority rights tools that assure that the Senate is a little different body, and the filibuster is one of those tools that we use.
What's good for the goose is good for the gander, right? Right?

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