Influential Senate Dems switch, now support "nuclear option" on filibuster reform

Sens. Boxer and Feinstein say enough is enough, now support nuclear option

By Elias Isquith

Published November 19, 2013 9:10PM (EST)

  (Reuters/Hyungwon Kang)
(Reuters/Hyungwon Kang)

According to a report in the Huffington Post, two key Democratic senators have changed their minds when it comes to the so-called nuclear option of filibuster reform.

Responding to the GOP's continued filibustering of judges Democrats say are patently qualified and uncontroversial, California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein now say they'll support the "nuclear option," an archaic parliamentary move through which Senate Dems could strip Republicans of their ability to filibuster judicial nominees.

"I am very open to changing the rules for nominees," Boxer told the Huffington Post. "I was not before, because I felt we could work with [Republicans]. But it's gotten to an extreme situation where really qualified people can't get an up-or-down vote."

Feinstein, meanwhile, when asked if she supports the nuclear option, responded, "I do now." She cited the failure of an earlier agreement between the two sides to keep filibusters in-check as her justification for changing her mind. "We had a meeting in the Old Senate Chamber and everybody had an opportunity ... to really express themselves," Feinstein said. "I thought it was going to bring about a new day. The new day lasted one week, and then we're back to the usual politics."

"This kind of behavior usually happens in the last six months of a president's tenure," Feinstein said of GOP judicial filibusters. "But not now."

More from the Huffington Post:

Neither Boxer nor Feinstein could say whether they thought Democrats had the 51 votes needed to invoke the so-called nuclear option, or the use of archaic Senate procedures to change the rules to strip the minority party of its ability to filibuster nominees. But both said the level of frustration among Democrats is at peak levels right now.

The fact that GOP senators were responsible for filibustering all three of Obama's D.C. Circuit nominees, all of whom were qualified and non-controversial, has "galvanized" Democrats to make changes, Boxer said.

Feinstein added, "If ever there's evidence for [a rules change], it is now."

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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Barbara Boxer Dianne Feinstein Filibuster Filibuster Reform Nuclear Option The Huffington Post