WASHINGTON D.C. – After days of intense lobbying, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is confident he has enough votes to trigger the nuclear option to change the Senate’s rules.
Reid needs 50 votes for the controversial tactic, which Republicans say would forever “change the character of the Senate” but Democrats argue is necessary to fix a broken institution.
Reid expects to have at least 51 Democratic votes to prohibit Republicans from filibustering President Obama’s executive-branch nominees. Vice President Joe Biden could provide insurance by presiding over the chamber to break a tie vote.
The standing rules of the Senate require a 67-vote majority to change the rules, but Reid would circumvent that by making a point of order that senators should be prohibited from filibustering executive-branch nominees.
This would clear the way for the Senate to confirm Obama’s most controversial nominees with simple majority votes, including Richard Cordray, the nominee to serve as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and three picks for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
It’s called the nuclear option because it would cause a meltdown in bipartisan relations. Senate Republicans on Thursday threatened to shut the upper chamber down until next year’s election.