Harry Reid threatens to use the 'nuclear option'

The Week

He's apparently had enough of his Republican colleagues

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told Nevada Public Radio yesterday that unless judicial nominations start moving through the U.S. Senate he’ll consider dramatic rule changes.

Said Reid: "All within the sound of my voice, including my Democratic senators and the Republican senators who I serve with, should understand that we as a body have the power on any given day to change the rules with a simple majority, and I will do that if necessary."

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This is a change of heart from Reid, who just last year suggested that rules could be changed with a simple majority — but only on the first day of the legislative session.

As Roll Call notes, Reid’s comments are similar to those of former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), "who in 2005 appeared prepared to take procedural steps to end the use of delay tactics against President George W. Bush’s judicial nominations. Reid vigorously opposed Frist at the time."

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The move is dubbed the "nuclear option" because it suggests that the majority unilaterally imposing a rule change might provoke retaliation by the minority party.

But Reid appears to be running out of patience with his Republican colleagues.

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Said Reid: "I’m a very patient man... If the Republicans in the Senate don’t start approving some judges and don’t start helping get some of these nominations done, then we’re going to have to take more action."

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