Senate Republicans have turned to using Harry Reid’s playbook in order to get President Trump’s Cabinet nominees confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Reid set things in motion on November 21, 2013 when he used the nuclear option in order to help Barack Obama. Here is an excerpt from a Washington Post story about that event:
“Senate Democrats took the dramatic step Thursday of eliminating filibusters for most nominations by presidents, a power play they said was necessary to fix a broken system but one that Republicans said will only rupture it further.
Democrats used a rare parliamentary move to change the rules so that federal judicial nominees and executive-office appointments can advance to confirmation votes by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote supermajority that has been the standard for nearly four decades.
The immediate rationale for the move was to allow the confirmation of three picks by President Obama to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — the most recent examples of what Democrats have long considered unreasonably partisan obstruction by Republicans.
In the long term, the rule change represents a substantial power shift in a chamber that for more than two centuries has prided itself on affording more rights to the minority party than any other legislative body in the world. Now, a president whose party holds the majority in the Senate is virtually assured of having his nominees approved, with far less opportunity for political obstruction.”
Reid prevented Senate Republicans from blocking presidential nominees. Now, Senate Republicans are taking a page from Reid’s playbook by preventing Senate Democrats from blocking presidential nominees.
“The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works voted unanimously to approve Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.
Thursday is the second straight day the committee met to vote on Pruitt’s confirmation but it’s also the second straight day committee Democrats boycotted the hearing. Yesterday, the committee did not vote.
Today [02/02/17], the committee members in attendance, all Republican, voted unanimously to suspend the rules prior to the confirmation vote. Senate committee rules require at least one member of the minority party to be present in order to vote to recommend the nominee for a full Senate vote.
This is the same move the Senate Finance Committee used twice yesterday to send both Steve Mnuchin and Rep. Tom Price to a full Senate vote.”
The Hill quotes Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) as saying, “We took this extraordinary step because the minority members of the committee took the extraordinary step of boycotting the business meeting to approve an EPA administrator for an incoming administration.”
Of course, Democrats reacted to this change to Senate rules the same way they reacted to Harry Reid’s use of the nuclear option.