Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to grease the skids for the immigration overhaul — and is putting off controversial items until it's done.
The Nevada Democrat said he would not do anything controversial on the floor that might jeopardize the delicate, bipartisan coalition backing comprehensive immigration changes. He spoke Thursday at a news conference billed as Democrats discussing "Republican obstructionism," where leaders one by one pointed to a handful of stalled Obama administration nominees and accused the GOP of blocking their approval on political grounds.
"I'm going to do nothing to interfere with immigration. I think it's important for our country," Reid said. "And I admire the bipartisan nature of what happened with the 'gang of eight.'"
But Reid denied that his recent push on nominations — and threats of blowing up Senate procedure — were "picking a fight."
When pressed on whether that statement was consistent with the very news conference leaders were holding, Reid said: "We're not picking a fight with anybody on any nomination. We're just saying this can't go on."
Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have spent the past few days fighting over the minority's right to slow and block nominees. Reid has threatened repeatedly to exercise the "nuclear option" to stop filibusters of nominations with a simple majority. McConnell has said this would give unchecked power to the administration and the majority. Reid himself railed against the "nuclear" option back when he was in the minority, but he has accused the GOP of unprecedented obstruction.
The reality is, though, if and when Democrats do go "nuclear," Republicans will certainly retaliate, potentially tying the chamber into knots.