Mitch McConnell’s Revenge: GOP Forces All-Night Session After ‘Nuclear Option’

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Senate Republicans are retaliating against Democrats for changing the filibuster rules via the so-called nuclear option by forcing major delays on nominations.

The Senate voted Tuesday to proceed to the nomination of Nina Pillard to the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Senate rules provide for up to 30 hours of debate on such a nominee — unless both sides agree to relinquish time. Republicans have said they’ll use up all the time, which would delay the vote to 1 A.M. on Thursday morning (or late Wednesday night), according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide.

Pillard was bottled up by a GOP filibuster but her confirmation is inevitable now that most nominees need just 51 votes. She has the support of at least 51 senators. All Republicans can do is delay the inevitable — and they are doing just that.

Republicans cannot mount a “talking filibuster” because debate time is necessarily limited to 30 hours. They’re poised to take turns occupying the floor and speaking until all the time is up.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered a barn-burner of a speech Wednesday afternoon, fuming against the Democrats’ decision to “go nuclear,” calling it a “power grab.” He also made his case against Pillard, labeling her a “liberal ideologue” who “doesn’t deserve” a lifetime-tenured seat on the influential D.C. Circuit court.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) lamented Wednesday that Republicans are forcing “the Senate to waste an entire day — and work long into the night — considering a nominee they already know will be confirmed.” He threatened to conduct work on weekends, perhaps through the holidays, if the stalling and delays continue.

“If we have to work through Christmas, we’re going to do that,” Reid said.

McConnell is exacting his revenge in stages: on Tuesday he forced a re-vote on the nuclear option, eating up time and delaying business by making Democrats uphold their decision to end the filibuster for non-Supreme Court nominees.

After Pillard, the Senate is poised to vote around 5 A.M. to advance the nomination of Chai Rachel Feldblum to serve as a member on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK