Writing at National Review, John Fund explains the dangerous implications and likely trail of events ahead.
It may sound like congressional “inside baseball,” but yesterday’s decision by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to limit the power of the minority to block nominees for Executive Branch and most judicial vacancies is momentous. Ezra Klein, a liberalWashington Post columnist, says Reid’s move gutting the filibuster rule that required 60 Senate votes in order to move nominees whom a determined minority opposed “has changed how all Congresses to come will work.” The “nuclear option” on Senate rules has been invoked.
It’s certainly true that many Republicans were once tempted to trigger the nuclear option. In 2005, GOP Majority Leader Bill Frist (R., Tenn.) proposed invoking it to clear a filibustered logjam of judicial nominees. But an eloquent critic of the practice stepped forward and convinced enough Republicans to back down and keep the filibuster. His name was Harry Reid, and he was then the minority leader. As he said on the Senate floor at the time: “For 200 years, we’ve had the right to extended debate. It’s not some ‘procedural gimmick.’ It’s within the vision of the Founding Fathers of our country. They established a government so that no one person — and no single party — could have total control.”
Reid used to boast about his role in “saving” the filibuster. In 2008, he claimed: “In all my years in government, that was the most important thing I ever worked on.” He swore that as long as he was leader he would never use the nuclear option, saying it would be a “black chapter in the history of the Senate.”