Update: It appears the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democrats will not move to change Senate rules on the filibuster–for now. Reid indicated Tuesday morning that a deal had been reached with Republicans to allow most of the nominations to move forward to up-or-down votes.
In exchange, Democrats will agree to swap out two nominees to the National Labor Relations Board that President Barack Obama had appointed during a congressional recess.
Among the nominees caught in the Senate logjam is Gina McCarthy, the president’s pick for head of the Environmental Protection Agency. McCarthy was Connecticut’s Commissioner of Environmental Protection from 2004 to 2009.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s staff told Capitol Watch late Monday night that the Democratic senator would support for executive branch nominations what some in Washington are calling the “nuclear option”: a change in Senate rules that would allow a filibuster to be broken by a simple majority of 51 votes, instead of the current 60.
“Washington isn’t working. The system is broken. The major culprit is arcane, anti-democratic rules that I’ve consistently opposed before and during my service in the Senate,” he said in a statement on Monday.
There’s no word yet from Sen. Chris Murphy’s staff about whether he would support the ‘nuclear option’ rule change. But Senate logjams have drawn the ire of others in Connecticut’s congressional delegation:
Reuters has reported that the entire Senate met for several hours Monday night to discuss Republicans blocks on seven of President Barack Obama’s nominees.Senators emerged without an agreement and were headed for a showdown today over the use of filibusters.
Republicans have strongly condemned the possible change in the Senate rules and vowed to retaliate if they gain the majority in the next election. The current set-up gives the GOP significant leverage in the chamber, because the Democrats only hold 54 seats.