Going Nuclear

Hope of passing the Fiscal 2014 defense authorization bill before the Thanksgiving break essentially died last week as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pushed through a controversial change in Senate procedures paving the way for quicker approval of Presidential nominees. The Senate on Nov. 21 elected to change the 60-vote majority required before a final vote on Presidential nominations can take place to a simple majority of 51 votes, according to an Associated Press report via San Jose Mercury News. The change, which makes it more difficult for senators to hold up appointees, has been dubbed the “nuclear option,” because it potentially blows up long-standing Senate procedures as well as the already “contentious” relationship between Republicans and Democrats, according to an NPR report. “During this Congress … the United States Senate has wasted an unprecedented amount of time on procedural hurdles and partisan obstruction,” Reid said in a statement. Republicans, on the other hand, argued the move was a “power grab” intended to redirect the discussion away from the failed launch of “Obamacare.” The change is not expected to affect the still-pending nomination of Deborah James to be the next Secretary of the Air Force, USAF spokeswoman Maj. Toni Whaley told the Daily Report. The Senate now is adjourned through Dec. 9.