When Senate minority leader Harry Reid held an impromptu press conference on Tuesday, reporters were somewhat stunned by his pleading tone and urgent manner. Reid pleaded for Republican Senators not to resort to the so-called “nuclear option” in changing parliamentary rules that would cut the necessary confirmation vote for judges from 60 to a mere majority.
Reid essentially threatened to shut down the Senate if the parliamentary tactic were used.
Reid’s urgency may be the result of a closed-door — what some Republican staff called secret — Senate Republican caucus luncheon on Tuesday afternoon.
Rumors were circulating in the Capitol’s halls and on K Street that the subject of the luncheon was when and how the nuclear option would be used in the very near future.
Senior staff for Republicans Senators were mum about the specifics of the meeting, but one staffer said “pending business” was a part of the discussion, “and the confirmation judges is certainly pending business.”
The Senate staffer added, “We’re expecting this thing to come to a head, and it appears that the Democrats are finally getting the message.”
In his remarks before reporters, Reid pleaded with Republicans to come back to the negotiating table to discuss ways around the nuclear option.