Harry Reid says he's ready—no really, he means it this time—to use the so-called "nuclear option" to reform the filibuster. Reid says that unless Republicans allow him to move forward on a host of Obama administration nominees, he'll use a parliamentary maneuver to change the rules allowing them to block the nominees in the first place, the New York Times reports. The threat sent a jolt through the Senate yesterday. Some highlights from the fracas:
- "The place doesn't work," Reid said of the Senate in a floor speech justifying the move. "The American people know the dysfunction we have here. And all we're asking is let the president have his team."
- Mitch McConnell was apoplectic. "This will kill the Senate," he declared at one point, saying Reid would go down as "the worst leader of the Senate ever."
- "Please. Please," Reid rejoined. "If anyone thinks ... the norms and traditions of the Senate have been followed by the Republican leader, they’re living in Gaga Land."
- That back and forth followed a closed-door heart to heart with Democrats in which Reid apologized for past deals to avoid the nuclear option (particularly this one) and lamented all the Bush nominees he'd let through after relenting in a similar 2005 filibuster showdown. "I ate sh-- on some of those nominees," Reid said, according to Politico.
- Republican Bob Corker wants to mend fences. "We need to understand your grievances more," he told Reid. Roger Wicker, meanwhile, has asked Reid to hold a bipartisan meeting in the Old Senate Chamber on Monday.
- The change Reid is proposing is actually pretty modest, New York explains, saying he's killing only "the newest and most abusive use of the filibuster." McConnell and Co. have been blocking any nominees necessary to enforce laws Republicans disagree with, but can't change.
- But many worry the change could signal the doom of the filibuster entirely. Asked if Democrats were stepping on a slippery slope, Barbara Mikulski quipped, "Every slope is slippery. That's why they call it a slope."