Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Key Senate Democrats Flip, Now Ready For Filibuster Reform Via 'Nuclear Option'

Key Senate Democrats Flip, Now Ready For Filibuster Reform Via 'Nuclear Option'


senate filibuster reform
Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) both previously opposed Senate filibuster reform but now support it after the level of obstruction Republicans are waging over President Obama's nominees. (Photo: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images) | Getty

WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats who were previously opposed to changing filibuster rules via the "nuclear option" are so fed up with GOP obstruction of the president's nominees that they now say they want to go nuclear.
"I am very open to changing the rules for nominees," Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told The Huffington Post. "I was not before, because I felt we could work with them. But it's gotten to an extreme situation where really qualified people can't get an up-or-down vote."
"I do now," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters when asked if she supports filibuster reform. She said she changed her mind on the issue after watching as a bipartisan deal to let President Barack Obama's nominees get votes, struck over the summer, went nowhere.
"We had a meeting in the Old Senate Chamber and everybody had an opportunity ... to really express themselves," Feinstein said of the summer meeting. "I thought it was going to bring about a new day. The new day lasted one week, and then we're back to the usual politics."
She called it "unconscionable" for a president not to be able to have his cabinet team and judicial appointees get votes. She specifically singled out Republicans' treatment of Obama's three nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. All three have been filibustered in the past few weeks.
"This kind of behavior usually happens in the last six months of a president's tenure," Feinstein said. "But not now."
Neither Boxer nor Feinstein could say whether they thought Democrats had the 51 votes needed to invoke the so-called nuclear option, or the use of archaic Senate procedures to change the rules to strip the minority party of its ability to filibuster nominees. But both said the level of frustration among Democrats is at peak levels right now.
The fact that GOP senators were responsible for filibustering all three of Obama's D.C. Circuit nominees, all of whom were qualified and non-controversial, has "galvanized" Democrats to make changes, Boxer said.
Feinstein added, "If ever there's evidence for [a rules change], it is now."

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