Ed Driscoll

Harry Reid Goes Nuclear

“Reid triggers nuclear option to change rules, prohibit filibusters,” The Hill reports:

Reid appealed a ruling from the chair that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) does not need consent to force a vote on a motion to suspend the rules to consider an amendment after cloture has already been approved.

The maneuver is highly arcane but momentous. If a simple majority of the Senate votes to uphold Reid’s appeal, the Senate’s rules will have been changed by the unilateral action of one party.

Republicans had considered using this maneuver, dubbed the “nuclear option” in 2005, to change Senate rules to prohibit the filibuster of judicial nominees. Democrats decried the plan and the crisis was resolved by a bipartisan agreement forged by 14 rank-and-file senators known as the Gang of 14.

Drew M. at Ace of Spades adds:

Just got an email from someone in the Senate. It’s not the filibuster but the ability to change the Senate rules by simple majority vote (instead of 2/3s vote). The rule they are trying to change has to do with the ability to close off the option of offering amendments.

Reid’s maneuver works
. The precedent has been set that Senate rules can be changed by majority vote.

This means the Senate rules can be changed by majority vote.

So, the GOP wins the Senate in ’12, nukes the filibuster and then repeals ObamaCare?

Wow.

This is pretty crazy and it’s going to take some time to sort out.

Steven J. Duffield, past policy director to Sen. Jon Kyl posits on Twitter, “Reid’s parliamentary power grab was NOT done to advance bills, but to protect weak Dem senators from awkward votes. *Not* abt lawmaking.” Lachlan Markey of the Heritage Foundation adds, “Methinks Reid may regret that move in, oh, about 13 months.”

Update: “Shocking,” but non-nuclear, according to Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner

Though it’s been the standing practice of the Senate to allow such motions by the majority, tonight Reid broke with precedent and ruled McConnell’s motion out of order. The Senate parliamentarian said the move was unprecedented, and then the Democratic chair, obviously, ruled in favor of Reid. While McConnell appealed the ruling, Reid won a 51 to 48 vote rejecting the appeal.

So, the end result is that by a simply majority vote, Reid was able to effectively rewrite Senate rules making it even harder than it already is for the minority party to force votes on any amendments. Should Republicans retake the Senate next year, it’s something that could come back to haunt Democrats in a major way.

And just to clear up some confusion, what happened tonight was different than the so-called “nuclear option” to end filibusters. While triggering the “nuclear option” requires a Majority Leader to use the same sort of strategic maneuvers as Reid just did, tonight’s move had to do with the amendment process, not filibusters.

Ross Kaminsky of the American Spectator writes, “A political situation which was already toxic with partisan posturing has now become all but uninhabitable:”

Reid better enjoy his authority for the remaining 15 months which he has it because the GOP will make him want to resign come January, 2013.

One other point to be made: One of the aspects of Obamacare which made Americans so angry was the process during which Democrats ramrodded, steamrolled, “deemed and passed”, and generally bullied their way to passing Barack Obama’s signature achievement. It was an exercise in tyranny which had probably drifted from many people’s minds. Reid’s maneuver will remind Americans that congressional Democrats have zero respect for rule, law, ethics, or precedent if they impede the passage of their desired legislation. This isn’t a surprise for the party of Woodrow Wilson, a man who held the United States Constitution with utter disdain as preventing him from putting government in charge of…well, pretty much everything. But it serves as a great reminder to the American people of just what Progressives reallly are, namely tyrants in sheeps’ clothing.

Update: Allahpundit says he’s “99 percent percent sure Reid’s going to relent on this:”

I’m 99 percent sure Reid’s going to relent on this once he gets his caucus together and figures out how to handle Obama’s bill, not because he’s a swell guy but because the GOP’s highly likely to take back the Senate next year and will merrily bludgeon the Democrats with this precedent unless they revoke it pronto. Let’s see how long Reid holds out. I’d be surprised if he lasts more than a couple of days. Exit quotation: “Am I 100 percent confident that I’m right? No. But I feel pretty comfortable with what we’ve done.”

Allah’s lede sums up today rather nicely: “This is procedural esoterica and therefore it’s very confusing, but here’s the nutshell version: Reid’s finally lost his mind.”

Heh.™

More as it comes in. Or perhaps that’s it for now: the Senate is apparently on hold for now, according to Andrew Stiles at the Corner, “Reid has postponed all votes until next week. Senators have adjourned for the Columbus Day weekend.”