Senate Steps Back From Nuclear Brink, Inches Toward Cordray Nomination

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J. Scott Applewhite / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is surrounded by reporters as he returns to his office after meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, July 15, 2013.

The Senate voted 71-29 to move forward with the nomination of Richard Cordray for the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, who predicted Cordray would pass the procedural hurdle after a night of closed-door discussions and flurry of morning phone calls, said it was an offer of “good faith” by Republicans. Cordray has waited two years for confirmation, and has been serving as director since January 2012 when he was placed in the job through a recess appointment. He will likely face a final vote today.

Before the debate, Reid said he was “fairly confident” that there was a way forward. To avert the nuclear proposal, which would have ended the ability of a minority of Senators to block many presidential nominations, Senate leadership reached a tentative deal, reported by POLITICO, where President Barack Obama would pull two nominees to the National Labor Relations Board – Sharon Block and Richard Griffin – and replace them with two nominees who would receive Senate votes quickly. Obama appointed Democrats Block and Griffin to the NLRB when Congress was out of session, a so-called “recess appointment” that was later ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court. The board will be run by two Republicans and one Democrat if Block and Griffin aren’t confirmed, or replaced by other Democrats.

In return for replacing Block and Griffin, Republicans would allow the five other nominees Reid wanted to go forward – including those of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Gina McCarthy as Environmental Protection Agency administrator and Thomas Perez as Labor secretary. “I think everyone will be happy. It is a compromise. I think we get what we want, and they get what they want. Not a bad deal,” said Reid before the vote. He praised Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona in particular for his efforts. “No one was able to break through except him.” The White House has not yet agreed to the deal.

Last night Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican of Mississippi, told TIME that Reid could have received all of the seven slots in controversy if Republicans reserved the right to executive nominations. That deal was reportedly struck down because McConnell wanted Reid to refrain from the nuclear option in the future, which Reid wouldn’t accept because McConnell refused to forgo filibustering future presidential nominees. The Cordray vote, which indicates future bipartisan discussion, allows both sides to keep their tools of leverage in the future.

UPDATE 5:40PM: The Senate approved Richard Cordray as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by a vote of 66 to 34.

19 comments
evil.aaronm
evil.aaronm

"I'm a dyspeptic 18 month old baby with a full diaper and a United States Senator!  If I don't get what I want, I'm going to hold my breath and pout!"

How far off am I?

eagle11772
eagle11772

Unfortunately, the ridiculous and uncalled-for use of hyperbolic language in this debate about changing the Senate's rules, such as "blowing up the Senate" and "the nuclear option" leads many uninformed (and dumb) Americans to take those phrases literally.  I know.  I've unfortunately met a few of these numbskulls.  They should simply call it what it is, i.e. "a proposed change in the Senate rules  which can be accomplished by a simple majority vote".  The Senate has existed for hundreds of years, with MOST of those years NOT having the current super-majority rule.  So if the rule is done away with, by a simple majority vote, I really don't think that the Senate will literally be a smoldering mass of wreckage, filled with radioactivity and nuclear mushroom-shaped clouds.  How about we just tell the truth for a change and call the proposal what it really is ?  Or is that too political ? 

jmac
jmac

@eagle11772 I wouldn't mind the 'nuclear option' phrase so much if it weren't for the fact that it excluded judges and legislation.   Most people don't know that.    

grape_crush
grape_crush like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

McConnell is Lucy with the football and Reid is Charlie Brown.

We will see how good this deal after another round of nominations get dragged out because the GOPers are betting that they will win the Senate in the next midterm election.

Of course, Majority Leader McConnell will have no qualms about changing the rules to whatever is most politically expedient for the Republicans.

AmusedByItAll
AmusedByItAll

Isn’t Harry Reid’s Pyrrhic victory in reality another defeat for good governance and American democracy?

Isn’t this another case where the minority has convinced the majority that the philosophy “what’s mine is mine, but what yours is negotiable” is the “new democracy”?

America seems to be inheriting the plutocratic political governance model that many Latin American countries have discarded in the past fifty for more democratic systems.

carotexas
carotexas

Words fail me. 

deconstructiva
deconstructiva like.author.displayName 1 Like

@carotexas 

Blog moderation software fails me as in preventing me from using the proper words to desscribe Harry "Not Exactly Profiles in Courage" Reid. If there's a way to weasel out of a much-needed confrontation, Reid will always find it. He embraces the philosophy of Linus Van Pelt from "Peanuts" - "There's no problem too big or too small that can't be run away from." He needs to go and be replaced with either a fighter like Schumer or a true dealmaker like Patty Murray.

tommyudo
tommyudo

@deconstructiva @carotexas 

Harry will go all right - when the GOP takes back the Senate in 2014, and then during the Prez year of 2016 the Dems can take it back again and perhaps elect someone with a backbone as Majority Leader.  I wouldn't put Schumer or Murray in that category. They are pretty much house trained. How about Liz Warren?

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

@tommyudo

I'd love Liz Warren as Leader, or Sherrod Brown, or similar. Alas, I don't think they have the seniority to get the votes to be Leader right now. If only. Merit should trump seniority any day.

bokeh9
bokeh9 like.author.displayName 1 Like

And Majority Leader Reid caves again, allowing Republicans to reject two nominees without bringing them up for a vote.

bokeh9
bokeh9

Or maybe, upon further consideration, that remark is too harsh, assuming quick approval of two equally qualified nominees.

grape_crush
grape_crush like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @bokeh9 > that remark is too harsh, assuming quick approval of two equally qualified nominees

So if Obama nominates two people to the left of Block and Griffin, they get approved in committee and put up for a vote with no stalling from the GOPers?

Oh yeah, that will happen.

jmac
jmac

@grape_crush @bokeh9  "The new nominees are Kent Hirozawa, who currently serves as chief counsel to the National Labor Relations Board chairman, and Nancy Schiffer, the general counsel at the AFL-CIO."

Sometimes I think Obama saves his 'real' nominee for second.  Don't know if that's the deal here.   I don't know if her really wanted John Kerry in the first place for Sec of State instead of his good friend who took the axe.   Sometimes I think Republicans really don't care who he nominates, they just have to have a "win" for making him nominate someone else and that might have been the case here.   

bokeh9
bokeh9

@grape_crush  ...Which would make my initial knee-jerk Majority Leader Reid as kitty-cat reaction NOT too harsh.  Depends on how much Senator McCain and friends bring to the table.  (I almost took the opportunity, there....)

jmac
jmac

@bokeh9  Reid also seems to have won  the right to consider rule reform in the future, which is something McConnell tried to squelch.   Seven nominees.   It's a small victory.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

@jmac @bokeh9 

Reid always seems to have the right to consider rule reform in the future, but he doesn't do a damn thing about it. He needs to go.

bokeh9
bokeh9 like.author.displayName 1 Like

@jmac Yeah, I was knee-jerk premature.  I'm just so tired of compromising our way back to the dark ages.

jmac
jmac

@bokeh9   Time might show it to be a huge victory for consumers.  The little guy might have won one.