The GOP was outraged last year after Reid and Democrats used a procedural move known as the “nuclear option” to unilaterally change the Senate’s rules to deprive the minority from being able to block most of President Obama’s nominations.
“I think it’s rank hypocrisy if we don’t,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said when asked about reversing the rule change.
“If we don’t, then disregard every bit of complaint that we made, not only after they did it but also during the campaign,” he added. “I’m stunned that some people want to keep it.”
Senators changing opinions on procedural gimmicks is nothing new. If they favor your side at the moment it’s, “Yay team!” Once the rules no longer do so, a resounding chorus of boos can be heard. So it’s not really hypocrisy, it’s pretty much business as usual.
The GOP could stake some consistent high ground (or what is perceived as such) by reversing Reid’s decision, but the reality is that you sometimes have to fight in the mud once your opponent has dragged you down into it.
Senior Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee see little tactical advantage in restoring the 60-vote threshold for nominees when they control the agenda next year.
They argue that if Obama nominates officials and judges who are too extreme, the Senate Judiciary could simply not report them to the floor, or incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could decide not to schedule them for votes.
They assert that reversing the nuclear option would not benefit them in the long term because Democrats would likely trigger it once again if they reclaimed the majority while their party controlled the White House.
And if a Republican wins the presidency in 2016, they want that officeholder to be able to shape his or her administration and the judicial branch with as free a hand as Obama has enjoyed during the final three years of his term.
“An immediate return to the prior nominations standard under Republican control would only reward Democrats for their misdeed and — since they have reaped the benefits but borne none of the costs — Democrats would have further incentive to engage in procedural abuses,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a former Judiciary Committee chairman, wrote in a Monday op-ed for Politico.
Now you have Hatch disagreeing with the two-headed McCain/Graham monster, which is a conundrum, as they generally march in lock step.
Since the passage of Obamacare, procedural trickery has been the closest friend of the Democrats, and Hatch is correct in assuming that they will institute it as the norm as soon as they are in control again — so why not fight the fight in the arena they created?