The strong boxer with the softest of voices is deceptively powerful. Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada whips the Senate into line and pulls no punches when he forces Republicans into more reasonable actions. The Republicans wiggle and squirm through loopholes or balk with the determination of a stubborn two-year-old. But Reid uncovered an unusual tactic to force a vote on the President’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.
In an unprecedented move, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has decided to hold President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee hostage, saying “The people should have a vote.” However, the people have decided. They voted for this president for eight years, not seven.
‘There are many procedural things we can do.’
‘That’s one thing we can do. Certainly we’ve got that in our arrow quiver, to do that and other things.’
Considering the former boxer’s maneuver to stump the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Iowa’s Republican Chuck Grassley agreed that there is nothing his party can do to stop Reid:
‘There’s nothing we can do about it. Under the rules of the United States Senate, that resolution can be offered any time.’
But Reid is playing with the Republicans like a cat with a mouse. He won’t file a motion unless necessary, but he holds the threat close. The Democratic senator’s plan is to apply constant force to compel Grassley to hold hearings on the President’s Supreme Court nominee.
Reid believes the more the public hears about the Republicans pigheadedness, the more they will support the President:
‘The obligation is for them to hold hearings and to have a vote. That’s in the Constitution. Right now, we think we’re in a good place. The pressure’s on them, not on us.’
‘The duties of the Senate are set forth in the Constitution of the United States. Nowhere in that document does it say the Senate has a duty to give presidential nominees a vote. It says appointments shall be made with the advice and consent of the Senate. That is very different than saying every nominee receives a vote.’
The way a discharge resolution works is a Democrat senator motions to make a resolution to “discharge Garland’s nomination from the Judiciary Committee,” moving it into executive session and then overcoming a 60-vote barrier.
‘Whenever they take this vote — whether it would be based on confirming the nomination or whether it’s based on a discharge — it’s still going to be a tough vote.’
Two Republican senators support confirmation hearings, Maine’s Susan Collins and Illinois’ Mark Kirk. Collins said this:
‘My views are not a secret to my colleagues. I would encourage all of my colleagues to sit down with Judge Garland. I believe that that’s how the process should work and works best when we have these one-on-one meetings followed by public hearings.’
Kansas Representative Mike Pompeo criticized Kansas’ Senator Jerry Moran, who originally supported hearings but changed his mind. Pompeo released this statement Monday:
‘I have consistently said, and continue to believe, that it is hopelessly and dangerously naive for Senator Moran to expect that President Obama would appoint a believer in the appropriate judicial role and basic interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.’
Reid still thinks he has the upper hand; after all, Iowa newspapers have written 20 editorials criticizing Grassley. Reid pointed out 17 senators have agreed to meet with Garland:
‘We feel we’re making progress. No one thought he would have a race. This is a real drag on the Republicans.’
Let’s watch how Reid plays this important game.
H/T: The Hill.