Reid on the “nuclear option”: Make My Day.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid threatened to bring the Senate to a halt if Republicans try to change the chamber’s rules to prevent the minority party from blocking President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees.
In a letter to Majority Leader Bill Frist, Reid wrote that Democrats, who have 44 seats in the 100-member Senate, would refuse to cooperate on any legislation not related to the U.S. military presence in Iraq, national security measures and other “critical government services.”
“Beyond that very limited scope, however, we will be reluctant to enter into any consent agreement that facilitates Senate activities, even on routine matters,” Reid wrote.
Reid wrote that if Frist would “abandon the nuclear option, I can assure you that Senate Democrats will cooperate with you to consider legislation and nominations.”
During Bush’s first term in office, the Senate confirmed 204 judicial nominees and Democrats blocked votes on 10 — a confirmation rate of over 95 percent.
Bush renominated seven of those 10; two received recess appointments — requiring that the Senate eventually review their nominations again. A third, Washington lawyer Miguel Estrada, formally withdrew his nomination.
During former President Bill Clinton’s eight years in office, the Senate withheld a vote on 64 of Clinton’s nominees.