It’s a ruse, Senate Republicans said before and then after their Democratic colleagues voted Thursday to alter the filibuster rules for judicial and executive nominees. By their telling, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) needed to find something to change the subject after Obamacare’s troubled rollout, which had dominated headlines in recent weeks. He found it in changing the Senate rules.
This wasn’t about ending GOP obstruction of the president’s nominees, they said. This was about distracting from the president’s failed health care law.
“I’d be looking to change the subject just as Senate Democrats have been doing with their threats of going nuclear and changing the Senate rules on nominations,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on the floor before the vote. “Millions of Americans are hurting because of a law Washington Democrats forced upon them, and what do they do about it? They cook up some fake fight over judges that aren’t even needed.”
McConnell’s No. 2, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), said the same in a statement after the 52-48 vote to overturn the filibuster came to an end.
“The Democrats’ attempt to pivot at a time when we should be focused on protecting the American people from dropped health care coverage makes their true motives clear,” he said. “They will do anything to take the attention off the failure that is Obamacare, even if it means breaking the rules of the Senate in a raw exercise of partisan political power.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) warned that Senate Democrats would pay a “heavy, heavy price” for the maneuver, although he didn’t say exactly what that would be.
“It will affect our ability to do business here in the Senate,” he told reporters after the vote. “And we will not let it distract from the failure of Obamacare.”
Even House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who has typically refrained from commenting on the internal debates of the upper chamber, insisted that Reid was trying to “change the subject.”
“Sounds to me like Harry Reid is trying to change the subject,” he said at his weekly press conference. “If I were taking all the incoming fire he’s taking under Obamacare, I’d try to change the subject, too.”