I’m sorry, but WIN THE MORNING pointing out that Harry Reid has 51 of 54 Democratic senators lined up for the filibuster “nuclear option” is complete hogwash.
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.
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.
There’s far less certainty on whether the caucus would like to tweak rules for judicial nominees as well.
It’s simple math. Lautenberg’s passing means Dems now only have 54 votes in the Senate. (His temporary Republican replacement can’t be expected to back rules reform.) Aides who are tracking the vote count tell me that Senator Carl Levin (a leading opponent of the “nuke option” when it was ruled out at the beginning of the year, leading to the watered down bipartisan filibuster reform compromise) is all but certain to oppose any rules change by simple majority. Senators Patrick Leahy and Mark Pryor remain question marks. And Senator Jack Reed is a Maybe.
If Dems lose those four votes, that would bring them down to 50. And, aides note, that would mean Biden’s tie-breaking vote would be required to get back up to the 51 required for a simple Senate majority. That’s an awfully thin margin for error.
Which means every single Dem other than Levin, Leahy, Pryor, and Reed could blow it. (Yes, I’m looking directly at you, Joe Manchin, Mark Begich, Mary Landrieu, etc.) The bottom line is we’ve heard all this before, and each and every time Harry Reid and the Dems gleefully blow it because they perversely benefit from the Senate’s inaction on the tough issues as much (or more at times) than the GOP does.
And no, I don’t even think Harry Reid and the Dems can even get this done correctly.