Washington, DC – Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor today.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Yesterday afternoon the Majority Leader and I met one last time trying to reach a compromise that would avert the so-called nuclear option. That effort was unsuccessful.
“It appears that the Majority Leader cannot accept any solution which does not guarantee all current and future judicial nominees an up-down vote. That result is unacceptable to me because it is inconsistent with constitutional checks and balances. It would essentially eliminate the role of the Senate minority in confirming judicial nominations and turn the Senate into a rubberstamp for the President’s choices.
“I can only conclude that the true purpose of the nuclear option is not to win confirmation of some or all of the small handful of nominees Democrats filibustered last year. Rather, the goal of the Republican leadership and their allies in the White House is to pave the way for a Supreme Court nominee who would only need 50 votes for confirmation rather than 60. They don’t want consensus, they want confrontation.
“Yesterday, after rejecting our last attempt at a compromise, the Majority Leader issued a statement. In this statement, the Majority Leader talked about the upcoming debate over judicial nominations and said he hoped the upcoming debate is free from “procedural gimmicks like the filibuster.”
“Mr. President, the filibuster is not a “procedural gimmick.” The filibuster is an important check on executive power and part of every Senator’s right to free speech in the United States Senate.
“Over the years, the filibuster has proven to be an important tool of moderation and consensus – which partly explains why Republicans today are so opposed to it. They aren’t interested in moderation. They’re only interested in advancing their right-wing political agenda.
“I was in the House gym this morning where I ran into Congressman Rush Holt of New Jersey. Congressman Holt’s father served in this Chamber. In the 1930s, Senator Holt led a filibuster to protect wage and hour protections for American workers. He wasn’t using a “political gimmick.” He was using an important tool to stand up for working men and women in this country.
“Of course the filibuster has not always been used for good. Just as it has been used to bring about social change, it was also used to stall progress that this country needed to make – such as Civil Rights legislation. But at these times, the people have spoken and public opinion has spurred this Chamber into action.
“So you see, the filibuster is not a “political gimmick.” It’s part of the fabric of this institution.
“Also this morning, I ran into another congressman, a Republican congressman. He came up to me and said – “I never thought I’d say this to the Democratic Leader, but I’m praying for you and for the Senate.”
“Mr. President, as the moment of truth draw near, I too am praying. I pray that cooler heads will prevail and that responsible Republicans – like this Congressman who spoke to me this morning – will join Democrats in standing up against this abuse of power.