Harry Reid smirks it’s “Good for the Senate!”

Harry Reid smirks it’s “Good for the Senate!”

Tuesday, after a three-hour meeting Monday night, the Senate achieved a precarious agreement to end the threat of a “nuclear option” by Senate majority leader Harry Reid. Basically, Republicans agreed to quit dragging their feet on President Obama’s executive nominations in return for Obama replacing two nominations that are under legal review by the Supreme Court. Obama has replaced the two nominations for the National Labor Relations Board that he originally appointed during a time he says the Senate was in recess. These appointments had been ruled unconstitutional earlier this summer by the U.S. Court of Appeals based on the argument that the President only has the power to make federal appointments during the Senate’s official recess period every two years. On the agreement reached, Reid noted, “it sure helps to sit down and talk to each other” and that he believes “everyone will be happy” and that it will be “good for the Senate”. The validity of the agreement was demonstrated Tuesday when several Republicans joined Democrats in the confirmation of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

This whole ordeal, instead of reminding me of the original intent of the American political process, just reminded me of a six year old I babysit, Noah. This is because whenever Noah is loosing a game, whether it’s softball or Monopoly, he threatens to change the rules, usually without my consent because it’s “his house”. I guess when you’re in politics it’s expected that you behave like a six year old at least once? All I could picture this week was Harry Reid stomping his feet yelling, “but it’s not fair” and threatening to change the basic political game simply because it is (currently) “his house”.

The “nuclear option”, given that ominous name because it threatened to tear apart the Senate on partisan lines, would have changed the rules of the Senate in order to prevent filibusters of executive branch nominations and allow them to be confirmed on a simple majority vote of 51.

This is not the first time this issue has come up; after all, the Senate tends to re-hash the same issues often. I wasn’t aware until recently (because, when it happened, I was a forth grader) that 10 years ago the same dispute was raised in the Republican-controlled Senate over President Bush’s judicial nominations. The majority leader at the time, Bill Frist from Tennessee argued, "President Bush's judicial nominees deserve a simple up-or-down vote. That is all that is being asked. This is one of our most important constitutional duties. We cannot use the system to nurse grudges. The consequences are too great". So basically, both sides have used the argument. It simply depends who’s winning the game and whose house it is.

What the nuclear option represents is the frustration with the political process that plagues the Senate. However, no matter how frustrating the process is, I like to believe it was designed this way for a reason. Congress, as everyone learns in eighth grade but somehow forgets, was designed to be a slow and obnoxious morass of opposition. If it were not this way, Presidents would simply have it to easy. Those that argue that the Senate is moving too slow on these (very controversial and in some opinions unconstitutional) nominations have forgotten this. Democrats will be thanking themselves they didn’t push the nuclear option through when they are the minority.

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