Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is threatening this week to change Senate rules by invoking the “nuclear option” on Senate votes, said in 2008 that resisting Republican efforts to deploy the same weapon in 2005 was “the most important thing I ever worked on” and that use of the tactic “will ruin our country.”
Under the “nuclear option,” the Senate Majority Leader would change the filibuster rule, which currently allows the minority Party to require 60 votes for Senate action instead of a simple majority. Reid has said, including Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” that he will move to prevent filibusters against President Obama’s non-judicial nominees.
Reid, who spoke in 2008 during an interview with former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), vowed then that he would never as majority leader of the Senate allow the nuclear option to come up again. He waxed deeply poetic, saying the nuclear option would violate the intent of the Founding Fathers.
From the interview:
REID: What the Republicans came up with was a way to change our country forever. They made a decision: if they didn’t get every judge they wanted – every judge they wanted – then they were going to make the Senate just like the House of Representatives. We would in fact have a unicameral legislature, where a simple majority would determine whatever happens . . .
The Senate was set up to be different. That was the genius – the vision – of our founding fathers, that this bicameral legislature – which was unique – had two different duties. One was, as Franklin said, to pour the coffee into the saucer and let it cool off. That’s why you have the ability to filibuster, and to terminate filibuster. They wanted to get rid of all that. And that’s what the nuclear option was all about.
DASCHLE: And is there any likelihood that we’re going to face circumstances like that again?
REID: As long as I’m the leader, the answer is “no.” I think we should just forget that. That is a black chapter in the history of the Senate. I hope we never, ever get to that again, because I really do believe it will ruin our country. I’ve said – I said during that debate – that in all my years in government, that was the most important thing I ever worked on.
DASCHLE: Well, I give you great credit for the way you handled it.
Ironically, Reid Sunday invoked the Founding Fathers again, this time saying they actually wanted an up-or-down vote on nominees.
If you want to look at nominations, you know what the Founding Fathers said: “Simple majority.” That’s what we need to do.
Reid claims that invoking the nuclear option is now justified because Republicans have abused the filibuster rule by overusing it.
Here’s the video of Reid’s 2008 interview: