Harry Reid Goes Nuclear, and Here’s Why

UPDATE: The Senate Democrats have successfully voted to engage the nuclear option — changing the rules to end the need for cloture motions to end obstructionist GOP filibusters against judicial and executive nominees. Following the rule change, President Obama said, “Today’s pattern of obstruction just isn’t normal. The gears of government have to work.”

EARLIER: Harry Reid is preparing to use the so-called “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster for judicial and executive nominations. However, he won’t use the option to scrap the filibuster on legislation. It’s a shame considering how the Republican minority has successfully filibustered nearly every piece of legislation brought to the floor by the Democrats.

Here are just some of the bills the Republicans have blocked in the Senate alone:

H.R. 12 – Paycheck Fairness Act

H.R. 448 — Elder Abuse Victims Act

H.R. 466 – Wounded Veteran Job Security Act

H.R. 515 – Radioactive Import Deterrence Act

H.R. 549 — National Bombing Prevention Act

H.R. 577 – Vision Care for Kids Act

H.R. 626 – Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act

H.R. 1029 – Alien Smuggling and Terrorism Prevention Act

H.R. 1168 — Veterans Retraining Act

H.R. 1171 – Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization

H.R. 1293 — Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act

H.R. 1429 — Stop AIDS in Prison Act

H.R.5281 — DREAM Act

S.3985 — Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act

S.3816 — Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act

S.3369 — A bill to provide for additional disclosure requirements for corporations, labor organizations, Super PACs and other entities

S.2237 — Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act

S.2343 — Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act

S.1660 — American Jobs Act of 2011

S.3457 — Veterans Jobs Corps Act

H.R.3204 — Drug Quality and Security Act

S.1238 — Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013

S.953 — Student Loan Affordability Act

Here’s an astonishing one. The Republicans filibustered the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act — literally, healthcare for 9/11 heroes. Every Republican senator voted to filibuster this bill.

During the president’s first two years in office, the 111th Congress, there were 137 cloture motions filed to end Republican filibusters. During the president’s second two years, the 112th Congress, there were 115 motions filed to end Republican filibusters. The 113th Congress, in its first year, is halfway to matching these numbers with 55 cloture motions. Compare this to George W. Bush’s first term when there were a total of 133 cloture motions filed.

I’ve been ambivalent about the use of the nuclear option, but based on the GOP abuse of the filibuster, it’s about damn time.

Bob Cesca is the host of the Bob Cesca Show podcast, a twice weekly political talk show. He’s also a contributor to Salon.com. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.