Robert Bennett: 'Nuclear option' ends unwritten rules


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  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 5:07 p.m.

    Yeah, this move by Harry Reid and supported by enough Democrats is going to look like a very bad idea to them if in a little over a year from now, the Republicans have more seats in the Senate and maybe even a majority. To me it looks like this is Reids last stand, as he will be blamed every time the Republicans use this 51 vote instead of 60 to either stop anything remaining on Obamas agenda, and or to push through the new Republican Presidents agenda, should that happen in 2016. Ask any member of the minority in the House of Representatives how it feels to have virtually NO power. At least the Senate required 60 votes, which was rarely held by one party. Now, it will be complete majority rule, something which most folks who worry about protecting the rights of a minority don't want. Well, now thanks to the Democrats, of all people, that may be just where this country is headed. I wish someone would get Reid to look at the big picture and re-think this. If it were the Republican McConnell, I'd say the same.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 4, 2013 9:46 a.m.

    I think your assumption that current demographics mean we will have Democrat Presidents for the foreseeable future... is a false assumption.

    The political pundits can read the tea leaves and tell us what each political party MUST do to win... but they are rarely right.

    I'd trust history before I trust some know it all political commentator on the TV.

    If you look at actual history... America switches which party is in control regularly. So to assume that all history will now be turned on it's head, and from NOW on... we will have nothing but Democrat administrations forever... is just illogical.

    Americans will tire of Democrats eventually. Maybe it will be crushing debt, Inflation, ObamaCare dissatisfaction, Iran going nuclear, a scandal. But eventually SOMETHING will bother Americans .... and they will decide to give another party a try.

    The replacement may not be the Republican Party. I don't know how long they will be around. But I can assure you that Democrats will not be in power forever. So you will get to see what it's like to be the minority again... so be careful about giving the majority carte-blanche.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    Dec. 3, 2013 6:11 p.m.


    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment.


    Falsely accusing Senator hatch?

    Senator Bennett used hatch as a point of reference.

    I researched the hatch website.

    On that website hatch blamed Democrats for using the nuclear option.

    I assumed he said something he never actually said?

    I accused Senator hatch of lying?

    I wrote we all know hatch would never lie.

    Time to go...

    Have a nice evening.

  • Alfred Phoenix, AZ
    Dec. 3, 2013 3:17 p.m.

    @The Hammer:
    "It's just too bad that democrats started this partisanship back in the Bush years to keep an Hispanic judge off the DC circuit."

    You Hispanics out there... take note. The Democrats don't love you so stop voting for them.

  • 2 bit Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 3, 2013 12:35 p.m.

    There You Go Again,
    Did Hatch say " it's the Democrats fault"? I re-read the article and didn't see that. Sounds like a straw-man to me.


    I think you are being overly defensive. There's no need to be. Both sides have done it in the past. Neither side can point at the other and say it's their fault today (including Democrats).

    The ironic part is you accuse Senator Hatch of lying... while falsely accusing him of saying something he never said!

    Is there anything that Hatch actually said in the article that is untrue? I re-read it and it sounds like he is just recounting some history of things that actually happened in the Senate in the past. And yet you say Senator Hatch lies (because you assume he said something he never actually said). That seems a little unfair to me.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    Dec. 3, 2013 11:57 a.m.

    "...So don't pretend only one party does it. And the "who does it more" twisting and squirming doesn't negate the FACT that both parties do it...".

    Senator hatch said it's the Democrats fault.

    We all know Senator hatch would never lie.

    Just ask Lara Logan.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 3, 2013 10:47 a.m.

    I'm not saying it's OK when either side does this but... lest those on the Left get on their high-horse about this.. Democrats HAVE blocked many nominations by the Presidents of the other party too. Maybe not as many, but they do it too. And the question isn't about the quantity, the question is... is the practice OK or is it not (not just who does it more).

    Democrats have not only held up District Court judge nominations, but also Supreme Court nominations. Even when the President made a special effort to nominate someone who was not an judicial extremist (like Judge Roberts).

    I also remember Hillary Clinton holding up our own Mike Leavitt's confirmation to lead the EPA when George W Bush was President. She admitted that she had no problem with Leavitt's qualifications, but she was holding him hostage to force Republicans to give her the funding for her NYC constituents to pay for NYC health problems after 9/11.

    So don't pretend only one party does it. And the "who does it more" twisting and squirming doesn't negate the FACT that both parties do it.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 8:26 p.m.

    With the pretense of comity gone from the Senate, and a severe identity crisis among Republicans, the rule change will probably benefit Democratic presidents alone, since changing demographics and a Republican propensity to insult the poor and minorities make it look like we'll have a Democratic presidents for the foreseeable future.

  • merich39 Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 4:50 p.m.

    The GOP in the Senate have used the filibuster against nominees with whom they have no qualms over their qualifications. They are using the filibuster as a means of political blackmail. They'll filibuster a nominee pending seeing if they can blackmail their way on someting, and then the nominee will be unanimously approved. They've used the filibuster more than all other congresses combined in the history of the country and they are not using those filibusters over objections to the nominees but rather as a means of trying to blackmail their way on other issues.

    As others have said here, the GOP brought this on themselves.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Dec. 2, 2013 4:12 p.m.

    >>Republicans have blocked SOME of his nominees? Some? Try more than half...

    That assertion is provably false. As of March 2013, President Obama had issued 207 nominations for federal judgeships. And by March 2013, Congress had confirmed 182. Only 25 were still awaiting Congressional hearings and not all of those were being filibustered. And Obama got both of his Supreme Court nominations confirmed without a single hitch.

    182 out of 207 is a confirmation rate of 88%...just shy of 9 out of 10. So how does filibustering less than 1 out of 10 even qualify as obstructionism?

  • Trust Logic Brigham City, UT, 00
    Dec. 2, 2013 1:46 p.m.

    I would like to add one more irony to those in former Senator Bennett's article. By abusing a loophole in the system instead of governing themselves (as he points out the Senate used to do), the Republicans have given, or at least justified the taking of, power to the Democrats! Whenever we fail to control ourselves and the desire to 'have it our way' above anything else, we will inevitably lose freedoms.

    It seems to me the Republican Senators are giving the Democrats a gun and saying, "Shoot me in the foot or I'll punch you in the face. Then they cry foul when the do it!"

    Thank you Bob for your explanation.

  • BYUtah Fan Herriman, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 1:19 p.m.

    @mcdugall: If, as many people are predicting, young people refuse to sign up in the exchanges and simply pay the penalty, then the ACA will be a disaster for the insurance companies. While your cynicism is healthy, where money and politics cross, repealing obamacare would be such a huge political victory for the republicans, i really doubt they could resist.

  • The Hammer lehi, utah
    Dec. 2, 2013 12:14 p.m.

    The hypocrisy of the democrats in congress is laughable but thats okay the rule should never have been used to keep the president from doing his consitutional duty of appointing judges. Its just too bad that democrats started this partisanship back in the bush years to keep a hispanic judge off the DC circuit.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Dec. 2, 2013 11:30 a.m.

    ‘Unwritten rules’ are generally in place among people of good faith who are nonetheless engaged in some form of battle (political in this case).

    When these rules are routinely ignored – what the Dems did under Bush was not routine vs. what the Reps are doing now – at some point they get either formally or informally tossed out.

    Senator Reid is simply making formal what has been informal since Obama took office.

    If the Senate used to be governed by rules akin to boxing (Marquess of Queensberry), when one side started behaving like MMA fighters it was time to drop the façade.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Dec. 2, 2013 11:13 a.m.

    Robert Bennett knows what precipitated this move by Reid. Senate Republicans have been filibustering President Obama’s judicial nominees at an unprecedented rate as though it was routine. It had nothing to do with the nominees qualifications. They were simply Obama’s nominees and that was the only justification the GOP had.

    It wasn’t politics as usual as Bennett wants to believe. The recent rate of use of filibustering as a standard tactic to block Presidential appointments served only the end of partisan advantage over a President the GOP loathes. Reid was forced to take such drastic action to end an intolerable situation that promised to only get worse. I would hope that Bob Bennett could bring himself to at least acknowledge that much.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 10:27 a.m.

    The filibuster must end for appointments based on issues other than the qualifications of the the individual nominated. The President (of either party) should have the right to fill vacancies in both the Administration and in the courts. If the person nominated is truly objectionable, then that should be discussed. And to hold up nominations for other considerations, including trying to change the course of the agency (as Ted Cruz did recently with the FCC) or to force the Adminstration to change course on unrelated issues is wrong. Reid, despite the howling of the GOP who have abused the process, is correct on this.

  • louie Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 10:15 a.m.

    "it shows that Senate precedents which were instrumental in keeping bitter partisanship under control are pretty much gone, which is not a good thing"

    I think just the opposite is true. This bitter partisanship has escalated to new heights as a result of this obstructionism on the part of the republicans. Besides over the last 100 years only four presidents have won a majority vote in two or more elections, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and Barrack Obama. Obama clearly has a greater mandate from the people, than recent presidents, and deserves the right to choose executives to branches of government and judges to fill vacancies in the courts.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 10:11 a.m.

    Roland and Schwa. I guess that none of you remember the "holds" that were constantly put on Bush's nominations by democrats, particularly Hilary. These "holds" were not technically filibusters but the same process was in place to take these holds off as would happen with a filibuster.

    And Schwa, the blocking of Estrada who was as you say, "an admitted partisan idealogue" was a travesty. Like none of Obama's picks, especially for the Supreme Court aren't partisan idealogues. Especially the last two.

  • mcdugall Murray, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 9:36 a.m.

    @BYUtah Fan - The Republican's are only p;laying political theatre when it comes to try and repeal the ACA. Private Insurance Companies, are forecasting, record profits with the increased enrollments. As everyone knows, the Republicans and sadly the majority of Democrats are married to corporate interests.

  • mohokat Ogden, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 9:02 a.m.

    As always Hypocrisy rears its ugly head and it is usually worn by the Democrats.

  • BYUtah Fan Herriman, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 8:46 a.m.

    As a conservative republican, I am pleased that the democrats have invoked the "nuclear option". The worm will turn and the republicans will control the Senate. We will then need only 51 votes in the Senate to dump obamacare. Thank you Harry. But watch out. There is likely to be an exploding petard in your future.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Dec. 2, 2013 8:39 a.m.

    It is one thing to vote against a nominee that you dont like for substantive reasons. It is quite another to do it to someone that you ultimately have no qualms with.

    That is the difference in what we have here.

    Some are against anything Obama wants or does. That is not governing. It is partisan obstruction.

  • U-tar Woodland Hills, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 7:49 a.m.

    Bailout Bob just keeps on going, and going.........and going.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 7:41 a.m.

    Anyone, from any side, from any persuasion, for any reason that is actually able to throw a wrench into the quagmire of Washington politics has my support. As long as Americans begin to open their eyes to the Kingmen that inhabit Washington, it is a good thing. As long as Americans begin to open their eyes to the simple idea that individual responsibility will make Washington impotent, it is a good thing. It is all good! Life is good! Go Mike Lee!

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 6:28 a.m.

    "Republicans have embraced the Estrada precedent and used filibusters to block some of his judicial nominees."


    Unfortunately, it wasn't just "some" of Obama's nominees, it was pretty much all of them.

    Bob, I wish you were still in Washington instead of that petty obstructionist, Mike Lee.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 6:26 a.m.

    "Now with Obama as president, Republicans have embraced the Estrada precedent and used filibusters to block some of his judicial nominees."

    Actually what the Republicans have done under President Obama is completely unprecedented. They have not blocked "some" of his nominees, they have blocked most of them. It is also untrue that the Democrats were the first to filibuster a judicial nominee. Republicans filibustered Richard Paez, a Clinton nominee, for appointment to the 9th circuit court. They also used procedural chicanery to block many of Clinton's other picks.

    Republicans have only themselves to blame for the current mess. There are currently three vacancies on the D.C. appeals court. The GOP made it clear that they would not confirm any of the President's nominees no matter who they were.

  • Schwa South Jordan, UT
    Dec. 2, 2013 5:07 a.m.

    Republicans have blocked SOME of his nominees? Some? Try more than half -- more than half of the judicial filibusters in the entire history of the Senate have happened during the Obama administration. Republicans have abused the filibuster to the point where it is now the norm. They brought this upon themselves by refusing to go along with anyone the President put forward.

    On a side note, Miguel Estrada wasn't the first judicial nominee to be filibustered. But he was certainly a dangerous one. He was an admitted partisan ideologue with more interest in furthering the Republican Party than in the rule of law.

    Mr. Bennett is being less-than-forthcoming, if not outright dishonest about the history of filibusters and their current abuse.