Post-Liu Filibuster, California Dems Tell Reid To Break Out The Nuclear Option

May 25, 2011 12:07 p.m.

With the Republicans filibustering judicial nominee Goodwin Liu, the chairman of the California Democratic Party says it’s time for Senate Democrats to deploy the so-called nuclear option, according to a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid obtained by TPM.Former California State Sen. John Burton writes that if Republicans controlled the Senate — “God forbid” –they “would not hesitate to flush the sixty-vote procedure down the toilet.”

“After reading about the despicable act by the Republican minority, denying Goodwin Liu an up-or-down vote to sit on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, I believe it is time to consider taking a page from the Republican playbook when they were in the majority and threatened to exercise the nuclear option when dealing with Presidential appointees,” Chairman Burton writes in the letter.

“Many Democrats throughout California and the nation are sick and tired of the minority party’s disproportionate impact on one of the great legacies of President Obama, an enlightened and intelligent judiciary,” Burton writes.

“I hope you will take strong consideration in letting the minority party know that blatant obstructionism will not be tolerated,” he writes.

Burton’s letter includes quotes from Sens. Mitch McConnnell (R-KY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Jim DeMint (R-SC) and John Cornyn (R-TX) all endorsing the use of the so-called nuclear to push President George W. Bush’s nominees through back in 2005.

The term “nuclear option” was first used by Republicans back in 2005 to describe changing Senate rules to push through Republican nominees, but they subsequently backed off using the term because it didn’t poll well. Now they’re claiming that they’d like everyone to get an up-or-down vote, but they “lost that battle” to Democrats. Republicans have subsequently called the reconciliation process — which requires a simple majority vote without the possibility of a filibuster — the “nuclear option,” but it has traditionally referred to changing Senate rules to require a simple majority to overcome a filibuster.

Read Burton’s letter here.

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