Morning Action: Harry Reid to Go Nuclear, Changing Senate Rules and Eliminating Rights of the Minority
HARRY REID. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) 13% wants to change the Senate rules before Thanksgiving, which would eliminate the rights of the Senate minority:
With Senate Republicans blocking a third Obama nomination to the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, a senior Senate Democratic leadership aide tells me Reid is now all but certain to move to change the Senate rules by simple majority — doing away with the filibuster on executive and judicial nominations, with the exception of the Supreme Court – as early as this week.
At a presser today, Reid told reporters he was taking another look at rules reform, but didn’t give a timeline. The senior leadership aide goes further, saying it’s hard to envision circumstances under which Reid doesn’t act.
When Harry Reid threatened the so-called “nuclear option” in the past, the Heritage Foundation explained how this erodes the rights of the minority:
By eliminating the rights of the minority party to extended debate, the nuclear option fundamentally alters the consensus-based nature of the Senate to resemble more closely the majoritarian House of Representatives. As Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky wrote, “It seems [Reid] wants the Senate to forsake its ‘advise and consent’ role and simply become a rubber stamp for presidential nominees, no matter how radical, extreme, or corrupt they may be.” Although Reid has said the change will only be for executive branch nominees, the practice could easily be applied to judicial nominations and legislation as well.
POLL. Approval for both President Obama and the Affordable Care Act are at record lows:
President Barack Obama’s approval has dropped below 40 percent, the lowest its ever been in CBS News polling.
Just 37 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing as president, compared with 57 percent who disapprove in a CBS News poll out Wednesd
At the same time, the president’s signature health care law is also at a new low. Approval of Obamacare stands at 31 percent, with disapproval at 61 percent, the worst numbay. The sub-40 percent number is the lowest approval Obama has seen during his presidency in CBS’s polling and is a drop of 9 points in approval from October.ers for the law in CBS’s polling.
“FIX.” Obamacare is fundamentally flawed and cannot be fixed. Yet that is what some Democrat Senators are trying to do by backing Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)’s bill, the Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act, S. 1642:
Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) on Tuesday became the latest Senate Democrat to back a legislative fix to ObamaCare that would let people keep their health insurance plan if they like it.
Udall signed up as a cosponsor to the Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act, S. 1642. That bill would allow insurance companies to keep offering insurance plans that would otherwise have to be canceled because they fail to meet new standards under ObamaCare.
Udall joined the bill without issuing a formal statement, but Senate Democrats are becoming increasingly vocal about the need to change the law. When Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) introduced the bill earlier this month, she said Democrats need to pass legislation to make good on their promise that Americans could keep their health insurance if they like it.
WEBSITE. HealthCare.gov remains incomplete and dysfunctional, but it is unclear when, if ever, the work will be done:
The HealthCare.gov website will still be a work in progress beyond the end of the month, Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday, appearing to soften a promise that the site will be working by then for the vast majority of users.
“The 30th of November is not a magic go, no go date. It is a work of constant improvement. We have some very specific things we know we need to complete by the 30th and that punch list is getting knocked out every week,” Sebelius told The Associated Press.
MARRIAGE PENALTY. Obamacare’s marriage penalty hurts middle class families:
Sam Stein, from the Huffington Post and MSNBC contributor, brought to attention one of the lesser known evils of Obamacare on Wednesday morning. Stein explained that if a married couple combines the two spouses’ incomes and it is over 400% of the poverty level, they will not receive a subsidy.
These couples tend to be middle class or lower middle class and already struggle to pay for healthcare. Without financial assistance, these couples have no option but to buy more expensive plans through the Obamacare exchange.
IMMIGRATION. President Obama says he supports a piecemeal approach to immigration reform (sub. req’d):
President Barack Obama said Tuesday he would accept a piecemeal approach to overhauling the immigration system, a move aimed at jump-starting a moribund process that reflects the realities of a divided Congress.
Mr. Obama has long favored the sweeping immigration bill that passed the Senate in June, but the House has made clear it wouldn’t consider that measure. In a wide-ranging interview before business executives at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council, the president said he is amenable to House Republicans’ taking up elements of the Senate bill, as long as the end result is the same.
We have noted that a piecemeal approach would almost certainly lead to an amnesty bill passing through Congress:
At this point though, wrangling over a comprehensive approach versus a piecemeal approach is meaningless. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) told a liberal audience that piecemeal bills simply serve as a means to an end:
Get us to a conference. In a conference, we can negotiate the notion of bringing all those bills together and get to common ground.
The goal of the pro-amnesty crowd is simple—pass a bill, any bill (preferably one that includes some sort of path to citizenship) so that pro-amnesty negotiators can begin working on a compromise that resembles the Senate-passed Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744). That deal making could take place in a formal conference committee or, more likely, a backroom process.