After talking with a pleading Mitch McConnell, Reid is pushing forward with the nuclear option on Judicial nominations.
"Americans believe congress is broken, and I believe they're right."
Turn on CSPAN. Here's the link:
Reid is laying out the entire process of republican obstructionism in this speech.
He has mentioned Chuck Hegel. He has mentioned Elizabeth Warren and the CFPA. He has mentioned the 168 filibusters
Mentioning the EPA, "The organization which protects the water my grandchildren drink, and the air they breathe, has waited almost 900 days for nomination."
Paraphrasing: Senate Republicans simply don't like the consumer protections that we're trying to implement, so they're denying the american people an up or down vote on these issues.
The hits just keep coming. Every sentence is blasting the republicans for a separate obstructionist action.
"The American People want Washington to work for American families once again... which is why I'm requesting a change of the rules for the senate."
Here it comes.
7:51 AM PT: "Today the important distinction is not between Democrats and Republicans in Washington, but between those who want our government to work, and those who want to protect the status quo. Can anyone say that the senate is working?"
7:52 AM PT: Mitch's response:
"But... but... but... OBAMACARE."
I'm serious. Mitch is talking about Obamacare.
7:55 AM PT: Mitch is saying that the rule change isn't about Republican Obstructionism, it's a distraction from Obamacare. We're not trying to fix the senate, we're trying to "Break the rules of the senate" in order to change them. Over Obamacare. Over "A court that don't even have enough work to do." He's accusing Reid of picking "A fake fight over judges that aren't even needed."
7:56 AM PT: We're in a state of "Judicial Emergency" but we don't need judges, according to Mitch.
Here's a great background to the problem from the Center for American Progress: http://www.americanprogress.org/...
7:59 AM PT: "They want to fill up the DC Circuit one way or the other. And the reason is clear, as one Liberal activist put it: Pres. Obama's agenda runs through the DC Circuit."
He's calling our Federal courts "Bureaucracy."
8:01 AM PT: We're "setting up a court" to fight for our Agenda.
Actually, it's the congress that set up the Federal Court system, Mitch, as mandated by the constitution, not Obama.The first Federal circuit courts were set up in 1789, by the founders themselves.
Nice try, though.
8:05 AM PT: While Harry Reid provided repeated examples of Republican Obstructionism, the only example Mitch can provide is Miguel Estrada.
Estrada was an Atty on the Bush v Gore case, and Democrats objected to someone with no judicial experience, someone who had never even written about court decisions, being put on a federal court. It looked like cronyism.
That's the only example Mitch has provided to Democratic obstructionism.
He says he's "Modestly" following that single, democratic precedent, as if it was the rule, not the exception. He says Democrats started this, and ignores the actions of the Gingrich house, killing Clinton's nominees in committee.
8:07 AM PT: Mitch: "This strategy of Distract, Distract, Distract is getting old, and the American people aren't fooled."
Actually, the American people are fed up with Republican obstructionism, and are going to run your party out of office on a rail in a few months.
8:08 AM PT: Clerk is calling the role.
8:08 AM PT: Translation: they're voting on it, right now.
8:19 AM PT: Here's what's happening. This is super arcane.
This is a motion to reconsider the Millett nomination. There will be a series of votes.
Eventually, someone will ask the chair of the senate what the rules are.
The chair will reply that 60 votes are required to nominate.
It is at that point that someone from the Democrats will move that the senate change the rules.
And then it gets even more arcane.
There have to be at least 51 NO votes to prevent the rules change. It's the Nos that control this little bit of procedure. If they don't get 51 no votes (hint: they're not getting 51 no votes) then the nuclear option is successful, and the senate will probably spend the next while putting the people we desperately need into the positions where we desperately need them. Because of how arcane the senate is, I was confused about this. The question they ask is whether to support the current rules of the senate. Yes, or No. The dems will be voting "No" and, if they get 51 no votes, then the filibuster is reformed.
8:24 AM PT: For those who are wondering who Millett is, she's Patricia Millett, a judicial nominee to the DC Circuit court. She's litigated 32 cases before the supreme court, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law, and her family is one of the oldest families in Maine, reaching back to before the Revolution.
She's one of the best Judicial nominees we've ever seen, and as an aside, she understands the netroots, having done some blogging for ScotusBlog.
8:27 AM PT: Order called. On this vote there are 57 yeas, 40 nays, 3 responded present.
8:30 AM PT: Mitch is trying to say that because they didn't filibuster the NOAA officer corps, they haven't been obstructionist.
Mitch then moved for recess until 5 PM. He's trying to slow this process down.
8:34 AM PT: Fox news is reporting that Mitch is actually standing up to Obamacare. Of course.
8:35 AM PT: Vote on adjourning til 5 still ongoing.
8:39 AM PT: We all know that the Nuclear Option was originally a Republican Idea.
8:48 AM PT:The senate WILL NOT Adjourn. They are continuing the march towards the implementation.
They are voting now to ADVANCE the Millett judicial nomination.
When the vote fails, with 57 ayes, someone will either make a point of order or a parliamentary inquiry as to how many ayes are required.
At that point, they will move to change the senate rules. If a majority are unopposed, this will all be over.
8:53 AM PT: We are at DEFCON 2 right now. DEFCON 1 comes when this vote fails. I wonder if Republicans will pull a fast one and confirm Millett. I know if I was a republican, I'd be considering it.
9:02 AM PT: Well, I was misinformed. This is another procedural vote. When this is done, there may be ANOTHER procedural vote, or they may be at the stage where they can finally vote to confirm the nominee. Still at DEFCON 2.
9:09 AM PT: It's happening!
REID HAS MADE A MOTION TO CHANGE THE RULES.
Mitch is slowing things down with Parliamentary Inquiries and Points of Order, but the vote is coming in NOW.
We are at DEFCON 1.
9:11 AM PT: They are calling the roll on the Nuclear Option!
9:14 AM PT: Senator Warren is on the floor, and she is absolutely beaming.
"Can someone explain the last colloquy between senators McConnell and Leahy regarding 67 votes."
Normally, changing the rules of the senate without the rules committee does require 67 votes. But the Republicans opened the door to changing the rules of the Senate through an appeal, using a simple majority. They did that 10 years ago when Bush and Cheney threatened the Nuclear Option, which they then re named the Constitutional option.
Democrats have not shut that door, and are instead walking through it to end unprecedented republican obstructionism.
51 votes are required, and the rules are being changed this very moment.
9:23 AM PT: Watch the "NO" votes here guys. If there are 51 no votes, the rules are changed.
For clarity: the question is "Should the rule of the senate stand?"
9:29 AM PT: I'm waiting for the official count. But from my own personal count, things are looking pretty good.
9:35 AM PT: The Nays are 52! The decision of the chair is NOT sustained, Millett is affirmed is a Nominee.
Filibuster reform is a reality.
"Under the precedent set by the senate, the threshold for cloture on a nomination is now a simple majority."
Mitch is appealing.
9:36 AM PT: Mitch is making the Senate vote AGAIN. As if a second vote will change things.
But Filibuster Reform has passed!
9:38 AM PT: Watch the Aye's now. I think.
The senate's rules are so strange.
9:45 AM PT: I think we're going to see another 52-48 vote. This is just Mitch being petulant.
9:47 AM PT: Levin, Manchin, and Pryor voted with the Republicans.
9:48 AM PT: Warren just cast her Aye vote with a thumbs up and a grin.
9:56 AM PT: AND IT PASSES!
FILIBUSTER REFORM IS A REALITY!
Petricia Millett is being confirmed NOW! The first of many!
10:04 AM PT: There's going to be a lot of debate and speculation coming now about what this means.
In the short term, here's what it means: all of the nominations that have been held up for YEARS by Republicans in the senate are about to be passed. Judges. The head of the EPA, and the ATF. They're all about to be confirmed by the senate.
There will be a lot of people speculating as to why this doesn't apply to the supreme court, or to other aspects of the filibuster.
There will be a lot of speculation: Maybe Reid didn't have the votes for that. Maybe he wants to be able to use the nuclear option as a bargaining chip.
Well, I don't know about any of that, and I don't think there's a way to confirm any of that speculation. But the senate took a big step towards functional government today.
The best way to ensure that we continue to work towards functional government is to take back the house in 2014.
10:13 AM PT: While voting is still ongoing, the Senate votes are currently 54-40 in favor of confirming the Millett nomination to the DC Circuit Court.
May she be the first of many.
It's a good day for our government and for our courts.
Hopefully we'll be able to end our current state of Judicial Emergency in the coming days.
And with that, I'm bringing this liveblog to a close.