How this all plays out will be determined behind closed doors at Senate Democratic Caucus lunch meetings, the first of which is on Tuesday. After huddling with his membership, Reid will determine which nominee comes to the floor first to face a likely GOP filibuster.There's real urgency in resolving all of the nominations, executive and judicial. The National Labor Relations Board, as CWA Larry Cohen pointed out in an interview with me a few weeks ago, will essentially cease to function if the president's appointments are not confirmed. With it go the protections for 80 million private sector workers. The crisis in the federal judiciary is very real, with more than 60 percent of the country living in a jurisdiction where there's at least one court vacancy, meaning our justice system is nearly as broken as our legislative system.
Reid has refused to answer questions on the topic even as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continues his campaign on the Senate floor to see if Reid will “keep his word” on not changing Senate rules in January—which Democrats are only too happy to turn on McConnell for promising “to work with the majority to process nominations.”
It’s still unclear whether Reid has the votes to change the rules, although the Sierra Club, Communications Workers of America and top Senate aides are confident Reid can marshal 51 members of his 54-member caucus to support at least easing the path for executive nominations such as Cabinet members.
Here's where the danger lies for real reform, though, a danger that Sen. Jeff Merkley warned of in this interview from Netroots Nation: Democratic senators are always looking for a "reasonable compromise." That's what got us a useless "reform" back in January. The likelihood of another gang forming to fight real reform is very high and their likeliest compromise would be to allow majority votes on executive nominations, but leave the 60-vote threshold intact for judicial nominees. Already, Reid and the Democrats have dropped the idea of simple majority votes for legislation. It's easy to imagine them whittling the reform down even more, to the point where it's nearly as toothless as what they agreed to in January.
It's imperative for a functioning government and a functioning judiciary that no deals on filibuster reform are cut this time. Republicans are not going to live up to any deal they strike. We know that. It's been proven time and time again. So today is a good time to remind your Democratic senators of that truth.