WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid is driving his chamber toward rule changes that would help President Barack Obama win confirmation for some of his nominees for posts overseeing workers' and consumers' rights. But the changes might strip future senators of their prized ability to delay action.
Reid, D-Nev., planned to continue his push to let nominees win approval with a simple majority of senators' backing instead of the 60-vote threshold that has stalled many nominations. All 100 senators have been invited to a closed-to-the-public meeting Monday evening to seek a compromise on how to approach those nominated to serve in senior positions in Obama's administration.
"We're not touching judges," Reid said Sunday. "This is not judges. This is not legislation. This is allowing the people of America to have a president who can have his team ... in place."
Reid was expected to address the issue during a morning speech at an advocacy organization linked to the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank with close ties to the White House.
Critics of Reid's proposal, including the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, called Reid's move one that would "change the core of the Senate."
Reid and McConnell, along with their rank-and-file members, have traded barbs over just what the proposed changes would be, both for Obama's current slate of nominees awaiting confirmation and for future senators who can delay or derail agendas.
Democrats, who are the majority in the Senate, are pushing to erode the rights of minority Republicans to block confirmation of Obama's picks for posts on a labor rights board and a consumer protection bureau. Republicans previously stalled confirmation votes for Obama's pick for labor secretary and chiefs of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Export-Import Bank, but last week, GOP lawmakers stepped aside and said they would allow those nominations to move forward.