Political Animal


February 14, 2013 3:41 PM The Fire This Time

By Ed Kilgore

The situation with the Hagel nomination is pretty murky at the moment. A filibuster is underway, and Harry Reid has (a) scheduled a cloture vote for tomorrow morning and (b) admitted he doesn’t have the 60 votes for cloture just yet. A lot of what happens seems to be in the hands of John McCain, who has flip-flopped on the appropriateness of a filibuster a couple of times in the last couple of days. The last indication was that he was “satisfied” with the Benghazi information the White House had supplied (his little friend Lindsey Graham’s little red wagon) but was still working on Ted Cruz’ demands for more info on Hagel’s speech income.

Meanwhile, anti-Hagel gabbers are throwing as much fresh chum into the water as they possibly can, including claims that Hagel has ties to apparently imaginary group called Friends of Hamas.

I don’t know how this will turn out, but I’m with Greg Sargent: if these bozos go where they seem to be headed, it is time for Harry Reid to revive the specter of actual filibuster reform, not the token measures taken in his agreement with Mitch McConnell. Some think Reid foreclosed the “constitutional option” for unilateral filibuster reform agreement until next year or perhaps 2015. But he needs to pick up the threat for real, shake it at Senate Republicans, and mean it.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Ronald on February 14, 2013 3:52 PM:

    Not just the Republicans, but the American population as a whole.
    It was exactly because of s**t like this that people were screaming for filibuster reform...that never happened.
    "Oh yeah, just trust them. They're statesmen".

  • JackD on February 14, 2013 3:58 PM:

    That assumes, of course, that Reid's caucus would vote for the nuclear option. It probably wouldn't.

  • Josef K on February 14, 2013 4:07 PM:

    Reid probably foreclosed the “constitutional option” for unilateral filibuster reform agreement until next year or perhaps 2015. But he needs to pick up the threat for real, shake it at Senate Republicans, and mean it.

    And I thought at one time a Senator's "Hold" on a nomination would be treated as absolute and inviolate. Instead Reid went ahead and just ignored one, so now we have a genuine fillibuster of high-profile Cabinet nominee.

    Perhaps its just wishful thinking, but could it be Reid is frustrated or offended enough to at least consider going ahead with another round of reform? It would make a nice change of pace from the whole "what a shame" schtick.

  • martin on February 14, 2013 4:12 PM:

    Harry has to publicly proclaim that Mitch and the Repubs have renegged on the deal. That will put them in the position of defending their actions publicly. They can't be shamed, but at least the public (or at least the MSM) will know what really happened.

  • JM917 on February 14, 2013 4:14 PM:

    If the Republicans filibuster Hagel, then Reid and the Democratic majority must drop the nuclear-option A-bomb--NOW, not in 2015. They must abolish the filibuster and let the chips fall where they may, for in any event we know what will happen if the GOP ever gets 51 seats in the Senate: McConnell or his successor will themselves abolish the filibuster.

    Of course, filibustering Hagel is just the first step. The Republican senators will proceed next to ensuring that the consumer-protection provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act are scuttled--and who knows whether Obama will be able to have a new secretary at the Treasury?

    Reid and the Democratic leadership are letting a minority of Republican senators effectively prevent the president from administering the nation.

  • Tomm Undergod on February 14, 2013 4:24 PM:

    "Mitch, we had a gentleman's agreement, and it failed, but nevertheless, I went ahead and made a deal with you again this year in order to avoid flatly abolishing the filibuster. But either you get your caucus in order NOW, or honest-to-Bob I will put an end to this crap once and for all and you can all suck on it. Obama got re-elected, your team lost votes, and it is time to let the majority rule. When we convene tomorrow, this will be over one way or the other. Your move, buddy."

  • sjw on February 14, 2013 4:29 PM:

    Reid ought to be embarrassed, as he got snookered by McConnell again. Obama ought to be on the phone telling him to "go nuclear ... now!" It's not just Hagel, it's Obama's entire second term and the very life of the country that's at stake here.

  • http://essayswriter.net on February 14, 2013 4:43 PM:

    So nice good spotsn i cegreat!

  • c u n d gulag on February 14, 2013 5:09 PM:

    Nothing surprising - out-of-control, desperate morons, acting like out-of-control desperate morons.

    Harry, you could have prevented all of this.'

    And now, I'm watchin McCain spew his venom because Hagel went over to the 'Light Side.'

    He went on about some BS about how Hagel, amazingly - learned something - and so, was against W, and his regime of Keystone Kops.

  • gdb on February 14, 2013 5:22 PM:

    The bozos Greg Sargent is naming should include BHO and Reid.. those bozos should have figured out in January 2009 that ending the filibiuster (not phoney changes four years later) was critical to Dem success. Four years later they still don't understand. And it's never too late for the nuclear (or constitutional option. Do it any time the Dems have the guts to do so. Which is never for current Senate Dems-- and BHO.

  • jjm on February 14, 2013 5:35 PM:

    Does the 'nuclear option' require only 51 votes?

  • gdb on February 14, 2013 6:05 PM:

    @ijm. Yes. including that of the VP if needed. Could have been done at ANY time since January of 2009.

    As jm says
    "we know what will happen if the GOP ever gets 51 seats in the Senate: McConnell or his successor will themselves abolish the filibuster."
    If you think otherwise, someone may weel need to disabuse you of your continued belief in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.

  • drc on February 15, 2013 10:29 AM:

    While I understand the need to have a filibuster option, and hence the reluctance of many (in both parties) to abolish it, I can't help but wonder why a simple reform measure has never been offered, let alone discussed.

    The reform I'm envisioning would allocate the minority party a certain number of filibusters (just like time-outs in basketball). The allocation could be based on the seat differential between the majority and the minority. Once the allocation is used up, there can be no more filibusters durint that legislative session.

    This scheme would need to have many details worked out, but once in place, the minority would have little choice but to reserve the filibuster option for only those egregious instances for which it was originally intended, and not for each and every mundane and routine thing.

    Has anyone ever heard of an idea like this? Could some of the parlimentary experts out there comment on this possibility?