In 2010, when the Democrats failed to get even one Republican vote toward the passage of the Affordable Care Act, a series of back-room deals led the use of something known as “the nuclear option.”
Essentially, using a parliamentary trick that was designed to forestall budget gridlocks, the Democrats used the vice president’s power as President of the Senate to push the ACA through with a simple majority rather than the 60 normally required to prevent a filibuster.
Reid was warned — by the GOP’s Alabama Senator Richard Shelby — that the rule change could backfire:
“Democrats won’t be in power in perpetuity. This is a mistake — a big one for the long run. Maybe not for the short run. Short-term gains, but I think it changes the Senate tremendously in a bad way.”
— Silence is Consent (@silenceconsent) November 20, 2016
But Harry Reid, who championed the move back in 2010, may soon be regretting that decision.
Reid and his Democrat colleagues changed the rules so that all that was needed was a simple majority of 51 Senators, coincidentally the number of senators Republicans now have.
That means that no matter how much huffing and puffing the Democrats do over President-elect Trump’s appointments after he takes office in January there isn’t anything they can do to stop them as long as the vote goes along party lines.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence holds the tie-breaking vote.
As of now, Kristen Orthman, a spokeswoman for Senator Reid, says that he has no regrets:
“Sen. Reid has no regrets on invoking the nuclear option because of Republicans’ unprecedented obstruction. If Republicans want to go on record supporting radicals, that’s their decision and they will have to live with it.”
But that could change once more Democrats realize that they will be powerless to stop any Trump policy that breaks along party lines — and that it’s their own fault that is the case.