In his quest to change filibuster rules in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) today accused Republicans of making an almost dead man come to the Senate to move EPA nominee Gina McCarthy out of committee.
“Long hearing on this. She had to respond to 1,100 questions. 1,100 questions,” Reid said this morning in an address to the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
“There isn’t, as I’ve indicated, a single objection to the qualifications for any one of these people. And we need to move forward. We need to stop blocking this president and the future presidents from having a qualified team that he thinks is what he needs,” he continued.
“This is in the Constitution. This isn’t about Democrats versus Republicans. It’s about making Washington work, regardless of who’s in the White House. I also think that it’s clear that we should all understand that the Senate is a unique institution. It was created that way by the founding fathers.”
Claiming “the power of an extreme minority now threatens the very integrity of this institution,” Reid then talked about McCarthy’s committee vote and the role of late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).
“After her 1,100 questions were answered, the Republicans refused to have a single Republican attend. So the only way to overcome that is all Democratic senators of the committee had to be there,” he said.
“Frank Lautenberg was dying — I called Bonnie and I said, ‘We have to have him here.’ And he, literally on his death bed, came down here — unhooked the stuff that was keeping him alive — came down here from New Jersey and walked in to make a caucus out — everybody was there for the Democrats on the [Energy and Public Works] Committee,” Reid related.
“We shouldn’t be doing stuff like that. That isn’t what it’s all about. You can’t reward bad behavior over and over and over again.”
Reid claimed he’s on a quest “to save the Senate from becoming obsolete, to remain relevant and effective as an institution.”
“This is really a moment in history where circumstances dictate the need for change. Minor change, no big deal,” he said. “Remember, all we want to do is what the Constitution says we should do. Filibusters are not part of the Constitution, that is something that senators developed on their own to get legislation to pass. Now it is being used not only to get legislation from stop passing, but to stop nominees. It’s in a totally different place than where it should be.”