Tonight, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) will keep the Senate “working through the night” in an effort to force conservatives to stand and filibuster the Levin/Reed plan for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
The same conservatives filibustering tonight were singing a different tune two years ago. When Democrats held up the confirmation of a few of President Bush’s right-wing judicial nominees, conservatives repeatedly complained of “obstructionism.”
Senate conservatives had threatened to deploy the “nuclear option,” which would have eliminated the traditional Senate practice of filibustering.
Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS): “[Filibustering] is wrong. It’s not supportable under the Constitution. And if they insist on persisting with these filibusters, I’m perfectly prepared to blow the place up.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) spokesman: “Senator McConnell always has and continues to fully support the use of what has become known as the ‘[nuclear]’ option in order to restore the norms and traditions of the Senate.”
Today, however, these conservatives are proposing the exact opposite of the nuclear option — a permanent filibuster. The Washington Post reports today that McConnell has requested that all Iraq amendments meet a 60 vote threshold, an effort designed to quietly block withdrawal legislation from ever passing the Senate:
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell responded to Reid with a counteroffer: an automatic 60-vote threshold for all key Iraq amendments, eliminating the time-consuming process of clearing procedural hurdles. … [A]ll the controversial war-related votes held since Democrats took control of the Senate in January have required 60 “yeas” to pass.
“It’s a shame that we find ourselves in the position that we’re in,” McConnell said. “It produces a level of animosity and unity on the minority side that makes it more difficult for the majority to pass important legislation.”
Bill Scher has more.