Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is blasting a proposal by the republicans in the majority that would stop minority democrats from filibustering judicial nominations. Harkin, a democrat, says 95-percent of republican judicial nominees have been approved, compared to 80-percent during the Clinton administration. He says, “Republicans I would note blocked more than 60 Clinton judicial nominees, including Bonnie Campbell of Iowa. Does the republican leadership celebrate the fact that playing by the rules they won 95-percent of the time? Do they play by the rules and gather votes necessary to change rule 22 regarding filibusters? No, they’re threatening to break the rules. The filibuster allows the minority party to continuously debate to block a vote on a nominee, unless there are 60 votes to end the debate. Harkin says the so-called “nuclear option” would do away with the minority’s ability to block judges. He says, “That will be the end of the Senate as we know it. It will be the end of a Senate where minority rights are protected. And that’s what this nuclear option is all about. It is a brazen power grab. By destroying the minority’s right to extended debate, nothing will stand in the way of republicans seizing absolute power and unchecked control of all three branches of government. It is the beginning of a trail to tyranny.” Some says the democrats will move to slow down any work in the senate if the republicans bypass the filibuster. Harkin says democrats won’t try to shut things down. He says it’s been the right of the majority to set the agenda and bring up bills. He says the leader of the democrats says if the nuclear option passes, then democrats will push their own agenda. Harkin says democrats will do what they can to bring up other issues. He says, “We intend to bring up items, time and time and time again that we believe the republicans have put on the back burner because of their ideological pursuit of purity in the judicial branch.” Harkin says it’s not a forgone conclusion that the republicans will get the 51 votes they need to shut down the filibusters against judges. He says some republicans have still not said how they’ll vote.
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