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Sen. Harry Reid
Reid Hints at "Nuclear Option" for Judicial Nominations
by MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- In an interview with Nevada Public Radio, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that he has not ruled out altering Senate rules to speed up Senate judicial nominations.
“All within the sound of my voice, including my Democratic senators and the Republican senators who I serve with, should understand that we as a body have the power on any given day to change the rules with a simple majority, and I will do that if necessary,” Reid says.
The "nuclear option" for a Senate Majority leader dates back to 2005, when a Republican Majority leader--Bill Frist--threatened to do away with delay tactics in the Senate rules, unless Democrats dropped opposition to a number of President George W. Bush's judicial nominees.
At the time, Reid opposed such an action by Frist. But these days Reid has his own concerns about vacant judicial posts, as well as other federal appointments being held up by Republican Senators, such as the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He appears to be considering options to speed up the process.
“I’m a very patient man. Last Congress and this Congress, we had the opportunity to make some big changes. We made changes, but the time will tell whether they’re big enough. I’m going to wait and build a case,” Reid says. “If the Republicans in the Senate don’t start approving some judges and don’t start helping get some of these nominations done, then we’re going to have to take more action.”
Reid Might Back Obama’s Plan To Cut Programs In Exchange For Higher Taxes
The interview also marks a tactical shift on federal entitlement programs.
Next week, President Obama will put forth a budget that includes cuts to Social Security and Medicare, with the intent of wearing down Republican reluctance to raise taxes.
Reid is cautious on this question, but allows that there may be room for cuts to Medicare.
“I think there’s a lot more that we can do. I personally think that these people who are called medical device manufacturers – what a rip-off that is. There are huge amounts of money we can save with Medicare,” says Reid.
The senator also says he admires Gov. Sandoval for making changes to the delivery of Medicaid.
On raising taxes, Reid says “I’m always willing to have more taxes from people who can afford them.”
Reid Blames Tea Party For Sluggish Job Growth, Crumbling Infrastructure
Reid told Nevada Public Radio that the seven million jobs created in the private sector post recession aren’t enough to compensate for massive job cuts in the government sector, losses he blames on the “government-hating Tea Party” and their refusal to invest in infrastructure.
“Everyone knows the problems – we have roads crumbling, bridges in need of repair. We have sewer systems that need work,” says Reid. “And the Republicans refuse to allow money to be spent on that.”
For every billion dollars spent on building a road or a highway, it creates 47,500 high-paying jobs, and thousands of other jobs that aren’t as high paying, says the senator.
“That’s what we need, that would be a shot in the arm,” says Reid.
According to today’s unemployment figures, job growth remains sluggish, with employers adding just 88,000 jobs in March.
Gun Legislation: Backround checks, School Safety, Size Of Magazines All On Table
Senator Reid hopes that “significant” advances will be made in gun legislation, but adds that significant is a relative term.
“We’re going to do something about safety in schools, that’s a Boxer provision. We’re going to do something with background checks. Is it going to be the background checks reported out of the judicial committee? I hope so.”
Reid says Congress will also vote on the size of magazine clips, a factor he says weighed heavily in the James Holmes rampage in Aurora.
“Remember that guy in Colorado? One of his weapons had a magazine that held one hundred bullets. That jammed. Had that not jammed the carnage would have been worse than it was,” says Reid.
Reid To NV Energy On Getting Rid Of Coal-Fired Plants: “Finally.”
A long-time opponent of coal-fired plants, Reid said he’d prefer it if the coal plants stopped “tomorrow,” but he’s satisfied with NV Energy’s plan to phase out the plants over time, replacing coal with more renewable energy sources like solar.
“Did I get everything I wanted? No. Do I think progress is being made by NV Energy led by Michael Yackira? Yes,” says Reid.
Reid also would have preferred more solar in NV Energy’s plan – 1200 megawatts over the 600 proposed by NV Energy.