Sen. Harry Reid is retiring effective this January. So along with the celebration that Barack Obama’s term as POTUS is over, we can be thankful that the grandson of a horse thief is also gone from public life.
Harry Reid was a pauper when elected to Congress and retires as a multi-millionaire. His financial improvement was not due to his sparkling personality, even in Washington, Harry Reid had a well-deserved reputation as being prickly. But he was a formidable foe, and both his financial upgrade and his power in DC was owing to his ability to be obstinate. Harry Reid usually got his way, and that tells you at least as much about the other Senators as it does him. Suffice it to say, SC’s Lindsey Graham did not have the backbone to defy Harry Reid.
The rules of the Senate are what governs their procedures; they don’t conduct business under Mason’s Rules of Order. The Senate of the US has its own rules, and that is what most folks do not understand. We hear how the Senate blocked some measure by the filibuster, which always required 60 votes to overcome. It is rare when the Senate can get 60 members to agree on something, so that was a high bar, and Harry Reid used it to obstruct all manner of policy. Their hidebound ways were often criticized as counter-productive, few measures cleared the Senate. But there was always an ace in the hole, so draconian they called it the “nuclear option.” The fact is nobody from either party was willing to invoke a change in the rules to make it easier to approve a bill.
But Harry Reid made an epic mistake in his last rodeo. Harry Reid decided to do that which was always thought to be unthinkable, Harry Reid went for it. The Democrats changed the Senate rules. They eliminated the requirement for 60 votes to close a filibuster (Rule #22), and they invoked the nuclear option. They did so to get Obama’s nominees to the Federal bench approved and in hindsight that was a lousy bargain.
How lousy will be demonstrated in spades early next year as Donald Trump gets sworn in as the 45th POTUS. Then the Senate will have to vote on Trump’s nominee’s to various Departments and what could have been a huge battle to get some people confirmed will now be a rather simple affair. Harry Reid’s legacy will be that he blew up the only mechanism for the party in the minority to have any influence in the Senate. Because of Harry Reid, a simple majority is all that will be required to confirm all of Trump’s nominee’s to any and all federal posts…except one.
The lone exception remains the Supreme Court (SCOTUS), which still requires a 60 vote hurdle to close a filibuster. But, of course, that can be changed as well. What is to stop Republicans from changing a 60 vote requirement for SCOTUS…not much? Having broken the taboo there is not the once dreaded consequence of changing Senate rules. Wouldn’t it be lovely if Senate Republicans could simply change the last hurdle for procedural deadlock and only require a simple majority on all matters, including the SCOTUS? Let’s rub it in and call it “Reid’s Rule.” How sweet it is.
There have been hundreds of men who have served in the Senate of the United States, and even a few women, but none will leave having made an impact as large as Harry Reid. Watch as the Democrats and their media allies try to make noise about Trump nominations such as Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis as Secretary of Defense…a walk in the park now. It is a great irony that after all the years Harry Reid obstructed the business of the Senate, he leaves his lasting mark on making matters easier.
Reid’s short sighted mistake will be of no small consequence. Every time some nominee gets confirmed, Trump should thank Democrats, publically and profusely for their magnanimous rule change.
Donald Trump got elected POTUS for a variety of reasons, none more obvious then people were mightily fed up with the nonsense of people in Congress like Harry Reid. The Senator from Searchlight, Nevada is retiring, so he won’t be around to vote on Trump’s nominations. Democrats bet the farm on Hillary winning, and we know how that turned out. The new Senate rule on cloture is the gift that will keep on giving…thanks Harry.
David W. Thompson worked in government, education and the non-profit sector for more than forty years. A graduate of Westminster College and Harvard University, he resides in Easley, SC. You can follow him
on his blog, Smokealarms2015.com.