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Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell had a heated exchange on the floor Wednesday over the nomination of Sri Srinivasan to the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. This is a key nomination as this court, second in stature only to the Supreme Court, has four vacancies. The nomination was unanimously approved out of the Judiciary Committee, with the sideshow of Chuck Grassley proposing that instead of approving nominees, the Congress should cut the vacant seats from the court.
That Grassley proposal gave legs to a new Republican excuse for potentially blocking this confirmation, and was McConnell's primary argument on the floor Wednesday: Filling this seat is a "power grab" by Democrats and President Obama, and by trying to fill vacancies, they're really trying to pack the courts. No, seriously.
“What did our Democrat colleagues do in response? They consulted with the White House and pledged to pack the D.C. Circuit with appointees, quote, ‘one way or the other’—meaning using the nuclear option.”
McConnell said that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had threatened to “break the rules to change the rules” by using the nuclear option, which allows the majority to change the rules during a congressional session. But Reid said he had no intention to do so.
“I’m not saying we have to change the rules,” Reid said in response to McConnell’s accusations. “I’m just saying we have to do better around here [and] try to work through this morass we have here.”
Presumably, Reid means that he isn't intending to change the rules for Srinivasan, and isn't taking the option off the table entirely. In fact, a blocked Srinivasan vote could be Reid's best means of convincing recalcitrant Democrats to go nuclear in the July showdown. McConnell could also just be blowing a lot of hot air to try to minimize damage with the crazy base if Republicans do decide to allow the confirmation to go forward.
Either way, the Srinivasan vote could very well be the precursor for a larger fight in July.