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Norm Ornstein: Republicans Forced Reid's Hand On The Nuclear Option

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AP Photo / ANDREW VAUGHAN

"For whatever reason, the Republicans decided to go nuclear first, with this utterly unnecessary violation of their own agreement and open decision to block the president from filling vacancies for his entire term, no matter how well qualified the nominees," Ornstein told TPM in an email. "It was a set of actions begging for a return nuclear response."

He also speculated that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) secretly wanted Democrats to go nuclear so he could use the same tactic to end the filibuster entirely if and when Republicans take the majority.

"McConnell's threat, it seems to me, makes clear the strategy: let Dems take the first step, and we will then bear no blame when we entirely blow up the Senate's rules after we take all the reins of power," he said. "That other Republicans like Corker, McCain, Alexander, Murkowski and so on, went along, shows how much the radicals and anti-institutionalists now dominate the Republican Party. Which is sad indeed."