Tensions are strained between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell amid a delay that would move President Obama’s cabinet nominations back further.
“What would happen to that team,” he said to the Senate floor, likening the cabinet nominees to baseball players. “They don’t play to their ability…what Republicans are saying to President Obama: ‘You can’t have your team until we tell you everything is just fine. It’s going to take a long time for us to tell you that.’”
The delay came after he hinted that he would look into enacting a “nuclear option” in order to make a filibuster on confirmations more difficult. Republicans threatened to filibuster if Senate Democrats took a vote on the nominees without their consent.
Earlier this year Reid said he would not invoke a nuclear option, which would change rules that require votes to receive a two-thirds majority in order to be passed. Instead, he could seek a simple majority.
Thomas E. Perez, nominee for Labor Secretary, and Gina McCarthy, nominee for EPA administrator, have yet to receive a vote in the Senate for their confirmations onto the cabinet. McConnell said that the nominees now have enough votes to break a filibuster and be confirmed, but other nominees may not have all 60 votes needed.
“[Reid] doesn’t want to have any controversy at all attached to any of the nominees. In other words, don’t ask any questions,” McConnell said. “Advise and consent means sit down and shut up.”
In response, Reid later added: It is a disturbing trend when Republicans are willing to block executive branch nominees even when they have no objection to the qualifications of the nominee.”